2009: 100 Million Americans Covered by NCQA-Accredited Plans

25 for 25: A series of 25 blog posts marking NCQA’s 25th Anniversary.

2009-1

2009: 100 Million Americans Are Members of an NCQA-Accredited Plan

This milestone—reached less than two decades after NCQA was founded—speaks for itself, more or less. But to put it into perspective, consider the following (nonscientific) look at how long it took other notable innovations to establish a secure presence in the American landscape.

Smartphones: 20 years. IBM introduced the first smartphone in 1992, but it wasn’t until 2012 that 100 million Americans owned one.

Fluoridated water: 15 years. Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the first American city to add fluoride to its water. Six years, later the CDC adopted a national policy of adding fluoride to city water supplies. By 1960, about 50 million Americans drank fluoridated water.

The Internet: 8 years. Although it dates back to the 1960s, the Internet was introduced to the general public in 1994. By 2002, about 58% of Americans used the Internet in some capacity, but only about 7% had broadband access.

Color TV: 18 years. The first nationwide color TV broadcast occurred on January 1, 1954 (the Tournament of Roses Parade), but it wasn’t until 1972 that sales of color TVs really took off.

Airbags: 22 years. The first patent for an airbag was filed in 1951, but airbags didn’t become operationally plausible until 1967. And they were rare until legislation mandated that driver-side airbags be included in all cars manufactured after 1989.

Penicillin: 16 years. The use of crude antibiotics dates back to ancient times (when certain molds were used to treat infections), but it wasn’t until 1928 that Alexander Fleming discovered the penicillin that we know today. An additional 16 years passed (1944) before it was in widespread use.