Some key points in the history of health care include Germany's adoption of mandatory sickness insurance in 1883 and the adoption of American Medicare and Medicaid programs in the mid-20th century, according to Physicians for a National Health Program. Additional key points in the history of health care include the development of cleanliness standards and the use of antiseptics in the early 20th century, and rapidly increasing health-care costs that finally resulted in the U.S. Affordable Care Act of 2010.
After Germany required workers to carry sickness insurance, much of the rest of Europe followed suit in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Unlike modern health care programs, these primitive insurance programs mostly provided lost wages for workers in the event of an illness rather than funds for the provision of services, explains Physicians for a National Health Program.
Medical services steadily improved in quality during the 20th century, according to PBS. Surgery became a common practice in the early 1900s, and surgical procedures to remove tumors, tonsils and other ailments rose in popularity. Later in the 20th century, hospitals developed improved procedures for sanitation, and the development of penicillin greatly improved patient outcomes.
Increasing social awareness in the 1960s led to American Medicare and Medicaid legislation, according to Physicians for a National Health Program. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan's presidential administration shifted Medicare payments from treatment-based payments to diagnosis-based payments, and private insurance soon followed suit, notes PBS. More Americans became eligible for government-sponsored Medicaid insurance with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.