Tuesday, September 04, 2007

America's uninsured

Editor's Note: The following column is the one referenced in the preceding post that was posted on Spero News.

We hear, read and see a good bit about the 47 million Americans who do not have health insurance, and it is implied that this is a scandalous shortcoming of our society, or of our government, or of our capitalist system, or some such thing. Often accompanying these news stories is anecdotal evidence consisting of personal stories of a few of the 47 million unfortunate Americans that cannot afford to buy a health insurance policy. The implicit message being sent is: “These Americans, your friends and neighbors, do not have health care.”

America’s uninsured are in the news again, by virtue of a Census Bureau report released late last month showing that, as The Washington Post put it, “The nation's poverty rate declined last year for the first time this decade, but the number of Americans without health insurance rose to a record 47 million,” or to about 16 percent of the population. The Post told its readers that “The figures also reflect a continuing decline in employer-provided coverage. The percentage of people covered by employer-based health insurance fell to 59.7 percent in 2006, down from 60.2 percent in 2005. The figure was 64.2 percent as recently as 2000.”

We also learned that “the new census data show that many of the newly uninsured are working Americans from middle- and high-income families. Of the 2.2 million people who became uninsured in 2006, 1.4 million had a household income of $75,000 or higher. About 1.2 million of the newly uninsured worked full time.”

And, the story ended with this opinion from Harvard Medical School professor Stephanie J. Woolhandler: “This is about the problem of the uninsured spreading to the middle class and working people,” she said. The Post identified Woolhandler as a liberal advocate of creating a government-run national health insurance program. “That's the thing that's emerging newly this time," she concluded. Clearly, the intent of The Post’s story is to lead us to the conclusion that the solution to this crisis is socialized medicine.

Absent from this story, however, is any meaningful breakdown that helps us understand just who is uninsured, for how long, and why. Also absent is the fact that the total of 47 million is disputed.

If you really want to find the truth about the uninsured in America, a little perseverance will turn up information like this: According to Census data, a little less than 46.6 million persons in America are uninsured, not 47 million. By rounding up to the next whole number, it does bring that figure up to 47 million, but it also makes the problem seem just a little worse than it really is.

So, more accurately, 46.6 million are uninsured; 400 thousand people are not insignificant.

But the Census data also show that 9.5 million of the uninsured listed themselves as “not a citizen”: they aren’t Americans. The total now drops to 37.1 million, about 12 percent of the population.

The Census report also shows that there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance. If we are concerned about the number of Americans that cannot afford health insurance, should we really count those that can afford it? Not if we are being honest, we shouldn’t.

So, 37.1, minus 8.3, minus 8.7, now leaves us with 20.1 million people without health insurance, which is approximately seven percent of the population, a far cry from the 16 percent we have been led to believe by the socialized medicine lobby and the compliant media, who either support socialized medicine or are too lazy to actually examine these claims.

We have to wonder just how large a crisis there really is.

If we believe the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is a frequent source for the mainstream media, Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and who make less than $50,000 a year total somewhere between 13.9 million and 8.2 million, no more than 5 percent of the population. Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months.

Which brings us to the ultimate question: Does it make any sense to destroy a health care system that 5 out of 100 people do not have adequate access to? Rational people will, of course, say “no.”


private health insurance said...

The reason and purpose for health care is good. It's just that laws and politicians have made the cost so high therefore making it inaccessible to some.

urgent care oceanside ca said...

Health insurance should be offered to everyone regardless of their status in society. I don't get the point of making it difficult for some to acquire.