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From whence did work comp come?

Insurance Journal’s new pub MyNewMarkets has an entertaining piece about the history of workers comp, which according to author Chris Boggs, began back in the days of the pirate.
Boggs does allow opinion to influence his rendering of history – notably he claims former German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck “was not known as a socially-conscious ruler; the working conditions of the common man were not necessarily foremost in his mind.”
I beg to differ.
von Bismarck was nothing if not pragmatic, and the fact that he forced passage of the first national health insurance, pension, and disability legislation shows that if anything, he was extremely socially conscious. Any ruler of a European country in the latter half of the nineteenth century had to be socially conscious, as the locus of power was moving rapidly away from the genetically-chosen elite.
The ones who were not socially conscious (e.g. Czar Nicholas Alexander) didn’t survive very long.
Other than that difference of opinion, the piece is well done and provides a brief intro with a promise of more to come.

2 thoughts on “From whence did work comp come?”

  1. A little more trivia for the end of the day. It’s von Bismark who set “65” as the magic age for retirement. I read this years ago, and, if I recall correctly, at the time 65 was 2ce the average life expectancy.

  2. Mr. Paduda,
    I am honored that you enjoyed my piece. Thank you for your kind words.
    History is very fickle, you mentioned Czar Alexander; it’s interesting that he is now a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.
    Again, thank you.
    Chris Boggs, CPCU, ARM, ALCM, LPCS, AAI, APA

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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