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15 Stats About Health Insurance That Will Surprise You

By Hannah Ferris
Published May 6, 2014

15 Surprising Stats About Health Insurance

The health insurance world has been in constant flux since the implementation of the ACA in 2010. The end of the first open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace yielded a lot of numbers. Everyone knows that over 8 million people bought plans on the exchanges. But not everyone has heard the numbers in the following 15 surprising statistics about contemporary American health insurance!

1. 129 million American adults and 17.6 million American children have preexisting conditions, like asthma or diabetes. This means that half of the population has some type of preexisting condition. Luckily, the ACA contains provisions that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions.


2. One quarter of people who qualified for premium subsidies during the inaugural open enrollment period did not have bank accounts. I’m not really sure how I ever lived without my bank’s iPhone app, so this one really surprised me!

Source: Jackson Hewitt via Wonkblog

3. Health care spending directly related to the ACA (now that more people have and use insurance), saved the U.S. economy from recording a negative growth rate in the first business quarter of 2014. Health care spending increased at a 9.9% annual rate, contributing 1.1 percentage points to GDP growth.

Source: Reuters via NAHU

4. The ACA levied a 10% federal excise on tanning services. This is sometimes it’s called the “Snooki” tax, after the tanned reality TV star.


5. More than half, or 52%, of Americans approve of “health insurance surcharges” being added to their bills at businesses, like restaurants, to help fund employees’ insurance policies.

Source: via LifeHealthPro

6. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expects the number of individual health insurance policy holders to reach 31 million by 2020.


7. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98% of all American employers.

Source: via BenefitsPro

8. There are 8.5 million uninsured American adults that could be eligible for the federal Medicaid program. 90% of these (7.6 million) are excluded from Medicaid because their states did not take money from the federal government to expand the program.

Source: KFF

9. The spending on health insurance premiums in the U.S. in 2012 was $917 billion – that’s higher than the gross domestic product of Switzerland, which in 2012 was $631 billion!

Source: & World Bank

10. During the first open enrollment period for the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, Florida enrolled nearly 1 million people. It notably outperformed Texas, which has a larger population and more uninsured residents.

Source: HHS via KFF

11. Roughly $89.4 billion in uncompensated care was provided in 2013. Uncompensated care is care that is sought by the uninsured. 60% of uncompensated care is provided by hospital emergency rooms.

Source: Health Affairs/the Urban Institute

12. Of the 8 million people who selected Marketplace plans during open enrollment, 65% of them chose a silver metal level plan, and 85% of them purchased a plan with financial assistance.

Source: HHS

13. Despite an eligibility rate of 88%, only 66% of employees eligible to purchase employer-provided benefits actually did so in 2013. This is due largely to the fact that young workers are less likely to accept benefits because they can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

Source: ADP via Zanebenefits blog

14. A South Florida ophthalmologist received $21 million in 2012 from the tax-payer funded Medicare program — more than any other doctor in the country. Needless to say, the FBI is checking him out.

Source: CNBC (video) and KHN

15. 60% of employers offering employee wellness programs claimed that these programs allowed for reduced healthcare costs. More employers and employees are embracing these wellness programs because healthy workers are happy workers!

Source: HHS

Hannah Ferris was a past intern at the Bailey Group. Her interests in social policy and public health yield unique insights into health care reform. Ferris entered the MSc Social Policy and Development program at the London School of Economics in 2014. She loves traveling, fashion, and writing her own personal blog, "Hannah's Happenings."