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Some Statistics About Health Care

(in no particular order)

Of all the 140.3 million workers in America, only 53.2% had employment- based health insurance in their own name in 1996.

22% of part-time workers were uninsured in 1996.

Only 28% of workers in small firms (those with less than 25 employees) had employment-based insurance in their own name.

The working poor are one-third as likely to receive health insurance from their employer as the non-poor worker and five times as likely to be without insurance from any source.

85% of the uninsured are workers or their dependents.

Employer-provided health insurance decreased by 9% between 1990 and 1995 as companies cut benefits to workers. Less than 15% of the decline in health insurance over this period was due to employment shifting from higher-coverage to lower-coverage industries. Instead the decline resulted from falling coverage rates across all industries.

Although 84% of all group insurance is provided by employers, American families pick up 2/3 of the cost of our nation's health bill through direct contributions for health care, higher consumer costs, and taxes. Business picks up the other 1/3.

A worker earning $7.00 an hour paying the average employee premium contribution for family coverage at work would spend 11% of income just for insurance.

20% of the average nonprofit hospital bill pays to cover people without health insurance.

Health care costs added $1,100 to the cost of American-made cars in 1990. Japan spent half that amount.

In 1990, General Motors spent $3.2 billion in medical coverage for its 1.9 million employees and retirees. That is more than the company spent on steel.

Small businesses paid an average of 25% more in premiums than medium and large businesses in Oregon in 1991.

Health care premium costs for U.S. employers increased 98% from 1987 to 1996. In contrast, wages and salaries increased 28%.

Insurance covers only 74% of the cost of doctors, 39% of the cost of dentists, and 25% of the cost of prescription drugs.

In 1996, 46% of the people who could not get hospitalization, prescription medications, medical equipment/supplies, or emergency, pediatric, mental health, or home care had insurance but could not afford their share of the cost.

In 1995, the United States spent more than $247 billion on administrative costs.

24.7% of our health care dollar goes to administration and marketing.

27% of the managed care dollar goes to administration, marketing, and profits.

The health care industry spent more than $50 million in advertising and lobbying (excluding campaign contributions) against health care reform in 1994.

According to a 1993 study, U. S hospitals spend 21% on billing and administration while hospitals in Canada spend only 9% on billing and administration.

Between 1970 and 1991, the number of health care administrators in the US increased by 697 percent, while the total number of all health care personnel (including administrative) increased by only 129 percent.

Oregon has at least twice as many Magnetic Resonance Imagers as the entire country of Canada.

(from Health Care Fast Facts 1998, compiled by the Oregon Health Action Campaign


For one in eight U.S. families, health care costs eat up 10 percent or more of their income. And the sickest insured Americans pay a disproportionate cost for care. This according to data prepared by Consumer's Union by The Lewin Group. These costs include out-of-pocket costs and premiums not paid by employers. The average out-of-pocket cost faced by the sickest 10 percent of insured people was $1736, nearly four times the average for all insured people of $453. They (the sickest) risk getting priced out of care. For the average person with employer-based coverage, the total spent on health care in 1996 (including the employer's contribution) was $2320. The average uninsured person spent $1310, or 43% less, possibly indicating the uninsured don't get the care they need.

(from Consumer Reports, February 1998)


The California Nurses Association (CNA) urged Governor Wilson on January 8, 1998 to declare an emergency care crisis in Northern California due to an "extremely serious" shortage of emergency and critical care beds and personnel. One sign of the crisis: Kaiser Permanente has issued a flyer to members entering emergency departments advising them to expect an average six hour wait per visit. (At the same time, Kaiser recently announced plans to close emergency and critical care beds in several of its facilities.) CNA Exec. Director Rose Ann DeMoro's response to the flyer: "It's appalling that Kaiser would rather seek to condition patients to accept levels of care more appropriate to a war zone than to address the problems that create long waits - cuts in staffing, closures, and inadequate capacity...Their goal is to socialize patients not to use the services they pay for. In a sad way, that is the ultimate expression of managed care; continued premiums and no patients." (From CNA press release, Jan. 8, 1998)


The hospital industry had a record profit year in 1996. Aggregate hospital profits jumped nearly 24% over 1995 to more than $17 billion. Revenues were up by 4.5%, to $302.6 billion. Profit margins were 5.6%, the highest mark in more than a decade, since 1985. American Hospital Association (AHA) officials cited restructuring and other management strategies, shorter length of stay, and little change in the growth of expenses as the reasons for the record gain. ("1995 a record year for hospital earnings," Modern Healthcare, Feb 3, 1997.)


The percentage of Americans with "employer-sponsored" health coverage, which means coverage through an employer whether the employer pays all or only part of the premiums, dropped from 61.5% in 1988 to 57% in 1995, and is predicted to fall to 50% by 2002, according to an analysis by the Lewin Group for the American Hospital Association. (AHA Report, 9/96)


Excerpt from a San Diego hospital firm's employee handbook: "All employees have the responsibility to place the interests of Sharp HealthCare above their own and those of others." (California Nurses Association, 7/16/96)


Low-income-residents of U. S. urban areas are as much as 370% more likely than the affluent to be hospitalized for ambulatory-care-sensitive diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and congestive heart failure. In contrast, in Toronto, admission rates for these diseases are 39% higher in low-income than in affluent areas. (from PNHP Newsletter)


A Florida ratings firm recently completed a national study that analyzed the expenditure-to premium ratio of HMOs. It found that on average, HMOs spend 17 percent of premiums om administrative and marketing costs. Administrative costs for Medicare amount to 4 percent. (Lavey, John: "Study measures state HMOs' care expenditures", Nashville Business Journal, Jan. 12, 1996)


Hospital spending on uncompensated care is at its lowest level of increase in a decade. According to American Hospital Association figures, hospitals' uncompensated care costs represented 6.1% of total costs in 1995. That figure includes all hospitals, including public hospitals which bear the brunt of uncompensated care. In 1995, hospitals incurred about $17.5 billion in uncompensated care, a 4.2% increase over the prior year and the smallest annual increase since 1986. ("Slow growth in charity care. Rise in uncompensated-care spending slowest since '86," Modern Healthcare, March 24, 1997.)


More than 63.3 million people were enrolled in 636 HMOs across the country as of July, 1996, an increase of 9.9 million since the previous July. Average co-pays for HMO members from 1987 to 1993 increases: $1.18 to $4.51 fo doctor visits; $4.50 to $24.90 per day for hospital stays; $5.74 to $12.24 for outpatient mental health visits; $3.90 to $4.60 per prescription. ("Continued HMO Growth is Marked by Structural Changes, Studies Say," BNA Managed Care Reporter, May 7, 1997.)


A founder of Oxford Health Plans Inc. who recently resigned as chairman of the troubled HMO will receive a $9 million retirement package and other benefits. (from Associated Press, April 1, 1998)