Monday, June 15, 2009

The "47 Million Uninsured" Myth

I came across an older article by Julia Seymour taking on the claim that there are 47 million uninsured people in America. The 47 million number, often rounded up to 50 million, has emerged as accepted fact in discussing the future of American health care. I've heard a few challenges to the number over the past few years, but they've typically come as asides while another point is being made. This is the first reference to an actual study that I've come across.
So what is the true extent of the uninsured “crisis?” The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report.

Kaiser’s 8.2 million figure for the chronically uninsured only includes those uninsured for two years or more. It is also worth noting, that, 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months according to the Congressional Budget Office.
As we discuss the possibility of adopting universal health care, and heaping billions of dollars more on top of our already out of control debt, it would be wise to get our facts straight.

We just had a trillion dollar "stimulus" package pushed through despite the Congressional Budget Office's prediction that it would actually make things worse. We're seeing now that the CBO was correct, and that throwing unimaginable amounts of money around without careful deliberation is foolishness on stilts.

Politicians believe they can push through whatever program they wish if they can simply convince the public that there is a crisis. Sadly, they are right. The word crisis should send up giant red flags whenever it crosses the lips of a politician. Instead, we predictably fall unquestioningly in line with whatever "solution" they tell us is needed.

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