When Health Insurance Became Big Business

Many employers began offering health insurance as an inducement to potential employees in the 1950s. Over a 20-year period, the number of Americans covered by health insurance grew 700 percent. The health insurance industry had exploded.

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—“The Post Reports on Health Insurance” by Milton Silverman from the June 7, 1958, issue of The Saturday Evening Post

During the last ten years, health insurance practically exploded into a multi-billion-dollar giant ranking with the major businesses of the country. This year, health insurance may finally surpass life insurance in the number of people covered. By the start of 1958, there were roughly 123 million Americans — more than 70 percent of the population — with some form of hospital insurance. Last year, health insurance covered a whopping $4.2 billion, or about one-fourth of our personal-sickness bill for the year.

With the exception of television or of bootlegging during Prohibition days, probably no other peacetime industry has grown so big so fast.

This article is featured in the May/June 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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