Last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney admitted that Obamacare would force around 15 million people –  5% of the US population – to drop their current insurance. This number doesn’t seem like a big deal to him, however:

“That’s the universe we’re talking about, 5 percent of the population,” Carney described. “In some of the coverage of this issue in the last several days, you would think that you were talking about 75 percent or 80 percent or 60 percent of the American population.”

That number is close to some other estimates for the individual market, but does not include people whose employers drop coverage, multiplying that number several fold.

But how many people is 15 million? Is it really such a small number, something we shouldn’t care about?

Let’s put it in perspective, and visualize 15 million people:

1. The combined population of 13 states

Yes, you read that correctly. 15 million is approximately the number of total people living in Wyoming, Vermont,  North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire,  Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, and West Virginia combined

And more than all of the New England states!

2. Nearly 5 million more than all students in 4-year colleges

10.3 million students were enrolled in four-year colleges in 2012 according to the Census Bureau.  That’s 4.7 million students less than the number of people Carney predicts will lose their current insurance!

3. The combined populations of Greece and Ireland


Combine the population of Greece and Ireland, and you’re close to the same number of people who will have to drop their current health insurance.

And more than the individual populations of these countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary, Sweden, and many more.

4. More than 3 times the number of food and beverage workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in 2010 relating to Food and Beverage Serving was 4,110,400. Multiply this number by three and you’re still at less than the number of people who the Obama administration admits will lose their health care.

5. Twice the number of people in the world who died from heart disease in 2011

The World Health Organization reports that ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death in 7 million people in 2011. That’s less than half of the people who will have to drop their current health insurance.  Throw in people who died from strokes, and you’re still not at 15 million.

It seems like 15 million people is rather a large number, after all!


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