Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Closer look at the "46 Million Uninsured"

OK boys and girls, today I want to look at one of the main talking point reasons people use to support the President's HC Bill, HR3200. It is widely said by those in power that there are 46million uninsured people, and we must get them covered. It sounds like a crying shame that there are so many uninsured people in our prosperous country. Let's break this group down and see who is in it, shall we?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the 46 million who are uninsured:
  • 10.1 million are individuals who have income of $66,000 for a family of four, but who elect to remain uninsured.
  • 9.3 million are non-citizens who generally do not pay tax.
  • 6.4 million who are enrolled in Medicaid or S-CHIP but reported to the Census taker that they were not. (This phenomenon is known among statisticians as the Medicaid undercount.)
  • 4.3 million are eligible for Medicaid or S-CHIP but have not enrolled.
  • 5 million are childless adults, mainly healthy, young adults who simply do not wish to pay for insurance.
  • 10.9million remain who are truly uninsured, some for short periods of time averaging less than four months.
Of those who are uninsured on a continuing basis, this is in most cases due to the working poor earning too much to get Medicaid/SCHIP/Medicare, but too little to afford (less than $50,000) HC insurance (HCI). There are varying estimates of these numbers, but all are roughly the same. It is the chronically uninsured working poor who should be the target of any HC reform.

Why, you may ask, are some not getting into the available coverage? Well, for the young, it is mostly the sense of invincibility and they often don't see any cost benefit. For many, it may just be a lack of initiative, planning, or interest. There may also be some shame at getting into the government handout business, so they just don't sign up. Still others may not realize they are eligible. These factors could be addressed, and in fact, many of the programs allow people to sign up when they enter the ER, so essentially, they are already covered.

Can we all agree that the 46 million number is a myth, and that the real starting point for covering "the uninsured" needs to be those who cannot afford or qualify for HCI? Also, I would be remiss to not direct you to my previous post of 8/7/09 with my analysis of HR3200. This post bumped it off the top of the list, though it is still being updated.

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