FreeERISA is based in D.C. For those of you familiar with the area, we have a cozy little office just south of Dupont Circle. This means, among other things, that “the President made me late for work" is a totally valid excuse for us. It also means we have a front row seat to today’s Supreme Court shenanigans.
Whether you believe that private industry has the interests of the people at heart, and that low regulation drives competition and is best for the consumer, or that big government regulation is the best way to keep Wall Street fatcats from taking advantage of the plebeians, I think we can all agree that there’s a huge amount of money at stake here. But how much?
ERISA only qualifies large health policies, i.e., those with more than 100 participants. This means that we don’t even have data on 90 percent of the health plans out there. But the data we do have on those large plans gives us some idea of the kind of dollars we’re talking about.
In 2010, there were 45,096 qualified health insurance policies filing under ERISA. The average policy covered 733 people, and to cover them paid an average of $1.5 to $1.7 million to carriers (depending on whether the premiums were experience rated or non-experience rated).
All told, those policies covered 32,759,475 lives, and put $69,715,352,427 into the pockets of the carriers (give or take a few pennies). Incidentally, more than 4 percent of them work at Wal-Mart. That’s nuts.
That’s just scratching the surface of what’s on the line a few dozen blocks from my office. And if you think it doesn’t matter, I’ve got $69 billion and 32 million people who feel otherwise.