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Notable Numbers

Notable Numbers

  • $2.5 trillion: total amount spent on U.S. health care in 2009. That's $8,047 per person and 17.3 percent of the entire economy.1
  • $1,666: average cost of a single day in the hospital.2
  • 17%: percentage of employers that offered health benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees in 2009.3 Percentage that offered such benefits in 1997: 28%. Percentage that offered such benefits in 1993: 40%.4
  • 66%: percentage of traditional plan participants who were extremely or very satisfied with their plan. Percentage of high-deductible health plan enrollees who were extremely or very satisfied: 40%.5 
  • $13,700: average cost of family coverage for a worker in a minimum wage position. That worker's average annual salary: $14,500.6
  • 50%: percentage of U.S. doctors who say they spend substantial time dealing with restrictions insurance companies place on their patients' care.7
  • 46%: percentage of U.S. doctors who use electronic medical records. Percentage of doctors in the Netherlands who do: 99%. 8
  • 1st: rank of Vermont in terms of health care quality among U.S. states. 50th: Oklahoma's rank among the U.S. states.9 (To view quality results for your state, use The Commonwealth Fund's interactive State Scorecard).
  • 3rd: rank of "preventable medical errors" on the list of leading causes of death in the U.S.10 Number of deaths annually attributable to medical errors: nearly 200,000.
  • 20%: percentage of Americans who smoke.11 Percentage who smoked in 1944: 41%.12
  • 34%: percentage of obese Americans today.13 Percentage who were obese in the 1970s: about 16%.14

1 C. J. Truffer, S. Keehan, S. Smith et al., "Health Spending Projections Through 2019: The Recession's Impact Continues," Health Affairs Web First, February 4, 2010: 467–77.
2 S. Brownlee, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer (New York: Bloomsbury USA, Sept. 2007).
3 P. Fronstin, "2010 EBRI Trends in Retiree Health Benefits Offered by Employers" (Washington, D.C: Employee Benefits Research Institute, July 2010).
4 P. Fronstin and V. Reno, "Recent Trends in Retiree Health Benefits and the Role of COBRA Coverage" (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Social Insurance, June 2001).
5 2009 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (Washington, D.C: Employee Benefits Research Institute. December 2009).
6 S. Blakely, Employers, Workers, and the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits (Washington, D.C: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Feb. 2010).
7 C. Schoen, R. Osborn, M. M. Doty et al., "A Survey of Primary Care Physicians in 11 Countries, 2009: Perspectives on Care, Costs, and Experiences," Health Affairs Web Exclusive, Nov. 5, 2009, w1171–w1183.
8 Ibid.
9 The Commonwealth Fund, State Data Center,
10 HealthGrades Quality Study: Patient Safety in American Hospitals. July 2004.
11 B. Hendrick, "Smoking Rate Is Declining in U.S.," WebMD Health News, Nov. 13, 2008,
12 J. Jones, "Majority Disapproves of New Law Regulating Tobacco," June 26, 2009,
13 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FastStats: Obesity and Overweight,
14 S. G. Leveille, C. C. Wee, and L. I. Iezzoni, "Trends in Obesity and Arthritis Among Baby Boomers and Their Predecessors, 1971–2002," American Journal of Public Health, Sept. 2005 95(9): 1607–13.

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