Profile America: First Health Insurance

Friday, April 21 —┬áHealth insurance coverage has been a major topic of media and political interest for the past decade or so, but the concept goes back 170 years. The Massachusetts Health Insurance Company of Boston was organized on this date in 1847 to offer group policies with benefits in the form of income replacement. For an annual premium of $4.50, a 20 year old could secure a benefit of $4 per week during a period of incapacity due to illness. Whatever the merits of the venture, the company failed, and it took about a half century before health insurance began to catch on in the U.S. The most recent statistics for 2015 show that out of a population of about 319 million, some 290 million were insured, almost 209 million with private insurance plans.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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