Wednesday, September 24, 2008


[Welcome Kaiser readers!]
Many times over the years, we've debunked "The Myth of the 47 Million" uninsured. Many of these folks can afford at least catastrophic coverage, while many others are eligible for government-sponsored plans but choose not to enroll. Still others are illegal aliens who access our first-class health care system at no (or little) cost to themselves.
Now, DC Examiner columnist Sally Pipes has startling new evidence busting this myth. According to the most recent Census figures, that "47 million" has dropped almost 3%, to just over 45 million. While that in itself is, of course, good news, it's her analysis of that 45 million that really illustrates the nature of the problem.
First, she divvies the total into 4 distinct sub-groups: the "invincibles;" young people who choose not to spend their hard earned cash on frivolous items like health insurance, opting instead for iPhones and DirectTV. Second, over 30% make over $50,000 a year. While that's not knockin' on T Boone Pickens' door, it's certainly not peanuts. Third, over 20% are, in fact, in this country illegally. One supposes a national health plan would have to cover these folks, as well. Lastly, 14 million, or another third, of the total are eligible for programs such as S-CHIP, but fail to take advantage of them. Again, that's a choice, folks, not a plight.
In fact, Ms Pipes sites a recent Georgetown University Health Policy Institute study that found that over 70% of uninsured kids are eligible for one or more government-sponsored health care programs, but their (irresponsible) parents choose not to enroll them. Whose fault is that?
At the other end of the spectrum, the Urban Institute reports that over a quarter of Americans eligible for Medicaid choose not to sign up, and go naked (well, at least as regards health insurance). Again, if folks choose to be irresponsible, how is that "the system's" fault?
Add to this the fact that many of the folks who are without health insurance at a given time later pick up coverage. This is called a "rolling population," and represents another chunk of the total. In fact, when one digs deep enough, one finds that only 8 million folks can be classified as "chronically uninsured;" that's still a problem, of course, but a much more manageable one, and puts the lie to the canard that our system is irretrievably broken.
As they say, read the whole thing.
[Hat Tip: Power Line]
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