Thursday, November 19, 2009

Don't Believe the Health Reform Hype

One central impetus for healthcare reform is extending insurance to those not now covered. But there's serious disagreement about just how many Americans can't afford health insurance: many of the uninsured have the money but choose to forgo coverage (especially the young and healthy) or opt-out of employer-sponsored health plans; some say they lack insurance though covered by Medicare or Medicaid already; others are illegal immigrants. Perhaps for those reasons, even President Obama dropped his estimate of the uninsured from 47 million to 30 million.

In last month's New York Post, Jeffrey Anderson says that figure still is too high:
The health-care-reform debate is plagued by different numbers on how many Americans lack health insurance, but we actually have excellent data on the question: Ninety percent of Americans are insured, according to the Census -- and even the president more or less concurs.

The Census is the source for the much-cited figure of 46 million uninsured. Yet the very same table plainly indicates that 9 million of those are not US citizens. That leaves 37 million uninsured who are Americans.

But there's more. In the same document, the Census also plainly states that "health-insurance coverage is underreported" in its survey. When it cross-checked its survey results with the official Medicaid rolls, it found that 16.9 percent of those on Medicaid had claimed on their Census forms that they were uninsured. That 16.9 percent amounts to 9 million people.

So the actual tally, according to the most authoritative source we have, is just 28 million uninsured citizens (46 million minus 9 million non-citizens, minus 9 million on Medicaid who were falsely recorded as uninsured).

To be more exact, it leaves 28,157,000 uninsured out of a total of 280,209,000. That leaves us with 90 percent of American citizens covered by insurance, according to the Census.
Remind me why we're seeking to increase inefficient government intervention into a system that works pretty well?

(via Critical Condition)


MaxedOutMama said...

One of your best posts ever.

No, there is no rational reason for this - a bill which will raise costs will in fact leave fewer Americans insured.

Thai said...

Agree with MOM that this is a great post.

We may disagree around some of the issues inherent in a system of universal coverage, yet I truly see your point and see our differences as an an outcome of our slightly different moral matrices more than I do as any specific criticism with your particular value system.

It is indeed a tragedy that the only way we can cooperate on this issues is to spend even more $. And please understand that I say this knowing I will likely personally benefit from the current proposals (remember where the uninsured seek care- i.e. the Emergency Department)

I guess it is simply in the nature of such issues.

Perhaps we will one day come to agreement on the simple fact that there are limited resources and we need to prioritize.

And again, as MOM said first, nice post. Even where we disagree.

Be well

bobn said...

MaxedOutMama said...

No, there is no rational reason for this

Which also applies to structure of the "Stimulus" package, Cap and Trade, the decision to try KSM in civilian court, and the continuation of Bush/Paulson I-Bank coddling.

This administration is batting 0.

@nooil4pacifists said...

Thank you all. Thai raises an interesting point on the possible root of our disagreement, which I will explore in a future post.

Thai said...

I posted a link to Johnathan Haidt's studies on moral matrices in the past when I discussed the issues of "restraints on choice". Unfortunately you mistook my intentions as being condescending.

Perhaps you will not misunderstand the link this time.

There has been a fair bit of research on the science of morality. Since I come from a science background, that is the angle from which I share links.

I understand there are obviously less scientific, more philosophical thoughts on morality/moral matrices... And to be fair, the science and philosophy do not disagree all that much.

But that is another topic altogether

Be well