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U.S. private health insurance - statistics & facts

Health insurance is a term commonly used to describe any program that helps in the payment of medical expenses. There are a number of public and private forms of health insurance that exist in the United States, however many Americans do not have access to any form of health insurance. While the number of uninsured people in the U.S. fell significantly since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed in 2010, it has trended upwards again since 2016. Meanwhile, Hispanic and Black Americans remain the most uninsured ethnicities in the U.S. Uninsured rates also tend to be higher in groups with low-income jobs, which pay too much to qualify for public insurance and too little to afford private insurance. Language barriers and immigration rules also affect these groups more than other ethnic groups.

The U.S. health insurance market

In the United States, the health system is a combination of public and private, for-profit and non-profit insurers, and healthcare providers. The government provides funding for the national healthcare programs and various other programs such as those for low-income individuals or veterans. Private insurance remains the foremost type of coverage though, and is mainly provided by employers. Around two thirds of women in the United States were insured through an employer, either theirs or a family member’s. This proportion was relatively similar for men insured in the U.S. through an employer. In 2020, the value of private health insurance premiums written by U.S. insurance companies reached over 336 billion U.S. dollars, with the top five health insurance companies representing almost half of the total U.S. market share in the health insurance industry.

Medicaid & private insurers

Medicaid is a national public health insurance program for citizens or lawful permanent residents with limited income and resources. At the end of 2019, it was estimated that over 75 million Americans were enrolled in the Medicaid program. In 2020, Medicaid spending was greatest in California and New York, but almost every state in the U.S. expended at least one billion dollars that year. The number of Americans with private health insurance began to fall in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the numbers have been rising slowly again since 2013. In the first half of 2021, around 60 percent of Americans had private health insurance. Private health insurers have benefitted from this increase in recent years, which can be seen in their revenues. For instance, Anthem - one of the largest private health insurers in the U.S. - saw its highest ever revenue in 2021.

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