Monday, February 4, 2008

Health insurance in the United States

Health insurance in the United States
Main articles: Health insurance in the United States and Health care in the United States
The U.S. market-based health care system relies heavily on private and not-for-profit health insurance, which is the primary source of coverage for most Americans. According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately 84% of Americans have health insurance; some 60% obtain it through an employer, while about 9% purchase it directly. Various government agencies provide coverage to about 27% of Americans (there is some overlap in these figures).[15]

Public programs provide the primary source of coverage for most seniors and for low-income children and families who meet certain eligibility requirements. The primary public programs are Medicare, a federal social insurance program for seniors and certain disabled individuals, Medicaid, funded jointly by the federal government and states but administered at the state level, which covers certain very low income children and their families, and SCHIP, also a federal-state partnership that serves certain children and families who do not qualify for Medicaid but who cannot afford private coverage. Other public programs include military health benefits provided through TRICARE and the Veterans Health Administration and benefits provided through the Indian Health Service. Some states have additional programs for low-income individuals.[16]

In 2006, there were 47 million people in the U.S. (16% of the population) who were without health insurance for at least part of that year.[15] About 37% of the uninsured live in households with an income over $50,000.[15]

Health insurers in the U.S. have a negligible impact as employers—in 2004 they employed fewer than 470,000 people (less than 1/5th of 1% of the population) at an average salary of $61,409.[17] These figures, though, are frequently, and with comic effect, cited by insurers in an attempt to establish some raison d'etre.

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