With this brief overview of the nature and structure of insurance complete, we turn our attention to the insurance market in the United States.
There are three primary mechanisms through which Americans currently receive health insurance.
• Commercial (private) health insurance, which in the vast majority of cases is provided through an employer (employer-sponsored health insurance) but which can be purchased on an individual basis (typically at significantly higher cost). In 2010, the majority of Americans—approximately 196 million—were covered by private/commercial insurance programs,1 with the vast majority of those (about 169 million, or 86 percent) through employer-sponsored health insurance.
• The federally ...