Skip to comments.'45 Million Americans' -- Who Are Those Guys?
Posted on 06/18/2009 6:00:03 AM PDT by Kaslin
About 45 million Americans lack health care insurance. Or do they?
A pro-"universal health care" television host recently cited this widely accepted "fact." The number is bogus.
Here's the skinny.
Start with the math. We have 300 million Americans. Subtract the 45 million -- 15 percent of us -- with no health insurance. That leaves 255 million Americans, or 85 percent, with it.
And the insurance is lousy, right? Not according to a 2006 ABC News/Kaiser Family Foundation/USA Today survey. It found that 89 percent of Americans were satisfied with the quality of their own health care.
Nearly half of the 45 million fall in the category of my 26-year-old nephew. He smokes cigarettes, dates, eats out, goes to movies and, like all young people, lives through his cell phone. With a slight change in priorities, he could afford health insurance, the cost of which at his age and health starts at about $100 a month. Take a look at a Reason Foundation video of interviews with a bunch of non-health-insured 20-somethings.
These Gen Xers copped to dropping money on clothes, booze, nightlife, the latest tech gizmos and other things of interest to them. With a change in priorities, these young folks -- far more representative of those without insurance than the forlorn husband and wife sitting on a porch swing -- could both afford and qualify for health insurance. They simply consider it a low priority.
Millions more can access health care -- through SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), Medicaid or other government programs. But for whatever reason, 11 million people simply refuse to take advantage of them.
Several million other Americans who want insurance do, indeed, go without it -- for a time. Many are, however, between jobs, and most -- at some point -- will find employment that either offers health insurance or pays enough so that they can buy it. Millions more work at companies that offer health insurance, and for a few dollars out of every paycheck, they could add family members. They choose not to.
What about criminals without insurance? More than 2 million Americans -- with access to health care, by the way -- use jail, prison or penitentiary mailing addresses. And for every one behind bars, how many live among us who survive by theft, drug dealing, prostitution or some similar career path? Taxpayer health insurance for them, too?
So now we're down to the Americans without health insurance on a persistent, long-term basis. This is approximately 10-15 million, a big number to be sure. But does this warrant a government takeover of the entire health care system?
Lacking health care insurance is not the same as lacking health care . By law, most emergency rooms must provide health care -- to both legals and illegals. Yes, they stand in line, but no health insurance does not equal no health care.
Government (aka taxpayers) already pays half of our health care dollar, with programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and other federal and state plans. The stated goals are accessibility and affordability. Congress passed Medicare in 1965. In the 20 years before the program's inception, the cost of a day in a hospital increased threefold. In the 20 years following Medicare, a day in a hospital increased eightfold -- substantially higher than inflation over that period. Because of cost controls on government plans, providers increased the cost on everybody else.
So here's the question.
Do we allow a complete government takeover of the section of health care it doesn't already run, for 10-15 million or so without health insurance on a persistent basis? Again, 255 million Americans already have it. Many millions more could get it if they wanted to. And 89 percent of Americans are satisfied with the care they now receive.
What to do? Unleash the free market. Allow greater competition among health care providers. Decrease costly regulations that increase the price tag. Enable consumers to purchase insurance plans across state lines. Allow non-government-licensed paraprofessionals and others -- currently prevented by law from offering any medical services -- to provide low-cost care.
What about poor care and negligence? We have laws against force and fraud, as well as a common-law duty of care. That's why God created lawyers. (Just give us "loser pays.")
What about those who cannot afford it? What about those with pre-existing illnesses whose insurance applications carriers turned down? What's wrong with charity -- people helping people? America remains the most generous nation on the face of the earth. We donate more of our time and money than countries like England, Germany and Japan. During the Great Depression, before the New Deal, charitable giving skyrocketed. After the New Deal, charitable giving continued, but not at nearly the same rate. People expected government to address the problem, and taxpayers felt they gave at the office.
We can provide such "universal" coverage at a "low cost" -- through rationing. That means long lines, lower quality and less innovation for services that Americans currently take for granted.
Economists call it T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
A fair number of this oft-repeated statistic (which has grown from the previous 40 million figure they liked to bandy about) are young, healthy people who figure they can get by without health insurance. God knows I did when I was young. They probably wouldn’t pay for health insurance even if there was a cheap public option available, because they don’t feel they need it, and who am I to question them?
Excellent article. Socialism seems founded on the belief that the majority ought to get screwed so that a tiny minority can benefit. This is done in the name of “fairness”.
I have read your position on health care and although in the main I agree, there are several specific areas in which I believe you and the republican party are wrong.
First, preventative care should be through education. It should not be part of the insurance program paid for by the government.
With that as the primary premise, you understand wherein I do not agree with some of your other positions without my going into detail.
This is exactly what is going wrong in our country.
The republicans are determined to show that they can outdo the dims.
“We've got a better plan” WHEN THE BEST PLAN IS TO SCRAP THE ENTIRE IDEA
and start over.
I believe it was Rush Limbaugh that hit the nail on the head.
The remark in general was that our health insurance is doomed for failure
and the best way to understand why is to compare it to auto insurance.
Suppose you had auto insurance that would pay for oil changes, tire
rotation, car wash, engine tune-up, etc.?
Worse yet, suppose it was a government insurance plan.
That is what we have in health insurance today.
For Medicare to pay for me to have my eyes examined or a physical is
There are even those who complain because they can't get Viagra for free!
Prescription drugs should not be paid for by health care either unless they
are a part of something catastrophic.
Which brings us to what health insurance should be: Health insurance
should be to take care of truly catastrophic health crisis such as heart
attacks, heart surgery, kidney failure and/or replacement, incapacitation
from strokes, auto accidents, etc.
There are many other catastrophic illnesses which I will not mention but
which should fall under an insurance program.
You are correct that insurance companies should offer wide ranging options in insurance plans, just as with auto insurance one can select deductibles, types of coverage, coverage limits, etc., the same should be available in health insurance.
Unless someone with guts tells the public the way it is, this idea of
socialized medicine will destroy this country.
Or end up with only the rich getting real medical attention because of
their ability to fly to India or some other place where they can purchase
But the political mind will not accept this idea at all.
The reason is easy. If you have every single vote from every single person
suffering a catastrophic health event, you would have only a very small percentage of the vote.
If you have the vote of every single diabetic and every single person who
gets a physical, you have enough to win any election.
And this is all about getting re elected. The hell with the country.
Our forefathers were right when they said that access to the public trough would destroy our country.
We are there.
As Rush said once, the Chinese may save us from ourselves by forcing some semblance of financial responsibility on us.
Thank you for bringing some frequently neglected facts to bear on this debate. Unfortunately it appears that some foundational economic principles are being completely ignored.
Competition and choice, not a public monopoly will encourage excellent care and high-quality coverage.
I don't see the 20 million or more illegal aliens listed as a group in these calculations. Maybe we could get the governments of Mexico etc to reimburse us for their care.
No accident victim or other deathly ill person is turned away from the hospital. Try going to a California hospital with an emergency, and sit in line behind all the UNDOCUMENTED border trespassers.
THIS ARTICLE WILL MAKE A LIBERAL’S HEAD EXPLODE....
First,I don’t believe the 45 million figure.Second,I’ll wager everything I have that a huge percentage of those who *are* uninsured are illegals....just as it’s true that a huge percentage of illegals fail to carry car insurance as well.Third...I’ll wager that most US citizens in this country who aren’t insured are young adults who are relatively (or very) healthy and,therefore,aren’t harmed by being uninsured.
re: “for whatever reason, 11 million people simply refuse to take advantage of them”
It’s called pride, integrity.
Here in IL both RINO and DEM governors have been unhappy with the low participation rate in schip/kidcare/allcare. They keep expanding the age limit of who is a “kid” and the income limits and to include parents of kids ... and then other adult family of kids and they still can’t get meet the participation goals.
They hire Rev Jesse Jackson and Chicago Archdiocese Sister Edith to build large “outreach” organizations. Jesse has Black pastors and Sister Edith has Catholic pastors preach in both English and Spanish from the pulpit:
If you don’t sign up for kidcare then you are not a good Christian; you are not a good parent; you are not a good person. After the Catholic Spanish mass the white liberal deacons, nuns, etc try to prevent anyone from leaving until they sign up.
It is truly comical to watch the way the immigrants, legal and illegal, do their best to avoid being cornered. They want to work in the US. But they don’t want to become Americanized if that means destroying their dignity.
People of immigrant Mexican ancestry have the lowest participation rate in kidcare, food stamps, etc of any demographic group. (That is not true of non-immigrant Hispanics such as Puerto Ricans who skew the generalized Hispanic statistics.)
Argh. I have a “friend”. He REFUSES carpentry work IF it will get him above the poverty level as he currently qualifies for “FREE” healthcare for himself and his wife.
Then they complain about how little they can afford.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
“Several million other Americans who want insurance do, indeed, go without it — for a time. Many are, however, between jobs, and most — at some point — will find employment that either offers health insurance or pays enough so that they can buy it. Millions more work at companies that offer health insurance, and for a few dollars out of every paycheck, they could add family members. They choose not to.”
The statistic the census bureau develops on this category among the 4X million includes persons who MAY have been without employer sponsored health insurance, between jobs, FOR ONE DAY.
Others included in the 4X million are illegal immigrants, people wealthy enough to buy health insurance but don’t chose to, teens and college students who MAY be covered on parents plans (CB data not sure), 20 somethings who work but chose NOT to take health insurance that their employer offers, and people eligible for medicaid but who chose not to sign up for it.
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