Health Care Hall of Fame Past Inductees
Henry J. Kaiser
Inducted in 2011
When Henry J. Kaiser built highways, dams, bridges and ships as leader of Kaiser Industries during the first half of the 20th century, prepaid group medical care was not a widely accepted practice. But his partnership with Dr. Sidney Garfield, a 1988 Hall of Fame inductee, led to the creation of what is now Kaiser Permanente and the rise of group practice and the health insurance industry as we know them today.
“Of all the things that I’ve done, I expect only to be remembered for my hospitals,” Kaiser said at age 75, about a decade before his death in 1967. “They’re filling the people’s greatest need—good health.”
That proved to be a prescient statement: The rest of Kaiser Industries has either been sold, merged or gone out of business in the past four decades, while Kaiser Permanente has grown into one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans.
Kaiser and Garfield, who had previously experimented with prepayment through modest payroll reductions for workers in Southern California, forged their partnership on behalf of workers who built the Grand Coulee Dam in Mason City, Wash., in 1938; the company also built the Hoover Dam and Boulder Dam.