Planning your health insurance needs? Read the CDC report first


Medical costs can destroy the best-laid future plans. That's why I find the yearly health of the nation report by the CDC so useful. It clarifies trends and expectations, helping me plan my insurance needs.

For example, here are some snippets from the comprehensive report:

  • We spent $2 trillion on health care in 2005, which averages out to about $6,666 per person, by far the highest total in the world. Private insurance paid 36%, the federal government 34%, state and local governments 11%, while 15%, or $1,000 per person, was paid for out of pocket.

  • Medications account for 10% of this cost, while hospitalization bills ate up 31%. Substance abuse treatment costs reached $20 billion, or $67 per person.

  • Life expectancy continues to improve. White women can now expect to live to 80.8, men to 75.7, while black women average 76.3, black men 69.5. If you make it to 65, though, the prospects are better. Females can then expect to live to 85, men 82.

  • However, age has its costs. People 65 and older averaged $8,900 in medical costs per year.

  • As a nation, we continue to eat well. The average American male's daily food intake has increased by a couple of doughnuts-worth since 1974, to 2,693 calories per day. Women are pigging out to the tune of an additional 340 calories, equal to scarfing down a Dairy Queen Large Oreo Cookies Blizzard every day. In the last decade, the number of overweight pre-schoolers has doubled, to 14%.

The 500+ page report is full of fascinating information. I recommend sitting down with a bag of Krispy Kremes and giving it a read. Then call your insurance broker.