Henry J. Kaiser and the Rise of Healthcare
by Aimee Rasmussen
Henry J. Kaiser was a well-known entrepreneur and continues to contribute to his legacy today. Kaiser began dreaming and creating ideas at a very young age, which ultimately created an extremely hard working and ambitious man. Born in May of 1882, Kaiser led a rather simple life through his adolescence but strived for better things and wanted to contribute somehow to his communities. He started working in his teens and even bought his first business at just twenty years old. He is most known for his adult life due to his numerous ventures in the industrial market and his contributions to aiding in shipbuilding during World War II. Henry Kaiser founded Kaiser Steel, he helped build roads and houses, built ships in record time, sunk his teeth into major construction and engineering jobs such as building the Hoover Dam, dabbled in the automobile industry, and even sought out building affordable airplanes. Kaiser ended his life residing in Hawaii building resort towns but his biggest and longest lasting impact came a few decades earlier.
One of Kaiser’s biggest contributions that still live on today is his idea of creating affordable healthcare for his employees. Henry’s mother instilled principles and morals that Kaiser carried throughout his career and it was these values that influenced who he would eventually became as a business owner and his need to help the less fortunate. According to Kaiser, his mother died in his arms at a too young age of 52 because of lack of proper medical care, so it was this event that led him to want to create better healthcare for his workers. The introduction and eventual creation of the beginning stages of healthcare was revolutionary and helped lead to what we see today throughout the country. This idea that Kaiser turned into a reality directly relates to the controversy that we are experiencing today with the introduction of Obamacare. Without the initial thoughts by Kaiser, it can ultimately be argued that healthcare would have taken longer to eventually be created and introduced to the public or could even be radically different then what we have seen in the last few decades.
My goal for this paper was to give the community of Oakland a reason to look back on Henry J. Kaiser’s life and appreciate the amount of effort this man took to give his employees, their families, and eventually the rest of the nation quality and affordable healthcare. He was the only business owner even offering this to his employees during this time period and we owe it to him to at least acknowledge the fact that he made a difference. Henry J. Kaiser felt strongly about helping the less fortunate and dedicated a lot of time and money to helping struggling Americans so it should be our mission to commemorate him every time we step into a hospital or a doctors office because it was his initial idea that made healthcare even possible.
Aerial Photograph of Kaiser Permanente Headquarters. Photograph. n.d.. Aerial Archives: San Francisco. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. http://aerialarchives.photoshelter.com/image/I0000xQBfNop7IpQ
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"Henry J. Kaiser Monument." Photograph. n.d.. Remember Them; Champions For Humanity. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
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Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Oakland. Photograph. n.d.. Google. 05 Dec. 2013. http://media.glassdoor.com/m/20/9c/bf/a4/another-kaiser-permanente-office-building-in-downtown-oakland-photo.jpg
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"The Remember Them:Champions for Humanity Monument." Photograph. 2011. Remember Them: Champions for Humanity. Web. 05 Dec, 2013. http://www.remember-them.org/monument-facts.html
This is a quote that is on the statue dedicated to individuals who impacted not only the Oakland Community but also the world. This statue is located in Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park in Oakland, California. Famous Names such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. are among the figures being commemorated along side Henry J. Kaiser for their social, political, and human rights contributions over the last 150 years.
This is a picture of a few sections of The Remember Them: Champions for Humanity Monument with the majority of its members displayed.