Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heathcare - Words and Numbers

From September 6, 2009

First, please pardon the misnomer, but if I had entitled this “Insurance Reform” would you have read even this far? Yet, the attention of the American people is rightly focused on “Healthcare Reform” even if they know the wording is wrong. The real topic isn’t healthcare; it’s insurance, and this verbal sleight of hand needs to be examined because it brings complete misunderstanding to the subject.

So, when liberals - including our President - state that 45.7 million Americans “are without healthcare” that is simply wrong. There are 45.7 million residents without health insurance. As you and I both know, those two things are staggeringly different.

Where did the number of 45.7 million come from? It’s based on a 2006 Census Bureau report of a survey which assumed that if you refused to answer the questions on insurance (2.5 million projected non-respondents nationwide) that you had no insurance. Also, if you had no health insurance for any part of the year, even if you had health insurance at the time of the survey, you were also deemed to be uninsured. We’ll take this information into account later.

So, who are these 45.7 million people and why don’t they have health insurance? The first group is the 9.7 million illegal aliens, a conservative estimate by the Census Bureau. There are estimates as high as 20 million illegal aliens based upon Border Patrol arrests and the Pew Hispanic Research Center estimated the number being between 11.5 and 12 million back in 2006.

Even using the low Census estimate, this leaves us with 36 million American citizens and legal immigrants estimated without health insurance. Of the remainder “who can’t afford health insurance” according to those panting for government-paid healthcare, 17.04 million had incomes of over $50,000 per year. I think we can safely say that virtually all these people choose to be self-insured. This leaves less than 19 million people out of a country of 300 million.

I know 19 million is still a lot of uninsured people, but here is something that you may not know because it is seldom reported. According to the same Census Bureau report approximately 45% of the uninsured were uninsured due to changing jobs and reported they would be without health insurance for less than four months. After eliminating all but 19 million, removing another 45% leaves us with less than 10.5 million; a number which includes all 2.5 million who were deemed to have no health insurance because they were non-responsive to the survey.

Surprisingly this places this conservative’s estimate right with the liberal-leaning Kaiser Family Institute’s estimate for families making less than $50,000 per year. The Kaiser Family Institute’s estimated range for this same group is from 8.2 million (chronically uninsured) up to 13.9 million who are temporarily without insurance.

All said, this leaves us changing a system for 300 million Americans for the benefit of 10 million – less than 3.5% of the population. There are ways to change our current system to help these 10 million people, leaving the system 85% of Americans like in place.

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