Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tired of the '47 Million Uninsured' Argument

Michael Tanner, health policy expert @ the Cato Institute, wrote this (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-613.pdf) well-researched article on different healthcare systems outside the United States. Be sure the read the entire thing.

The following is what I would like everyone to remember each time '47 million uninsured' is thrown about.

11. Carmen DeNavas-Walt et al., “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2005,” Current Population Reports (Washington: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). This number should be approached with a great deal of caution, however. A study for the Department of Health and Human Services suggests that the Current Population Survey “appears to overstate the uninsured substantially compared to other surveys.” Cathy Callahan and James Mays, “Working Paper: Estimating the Number of Individuals in the United States without Health Insurance,” Actuarial Research Service, prepared for the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005), p. 22. Other studies put the actual number of uninsured at 21–31 million. Congressional Budget Office, “How Many People Lack Health Insurance and for How Long?” (Washington: Congressional Budget Office, 2003). Moreover, all those estimates include people who could obtain coverage. For example, as many as one-third of Americans without health insurance are eligible for existing government programs such as Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program but have failed to sign up for the program. BlueCross BlueShield ssociation, “The Uninsured in America,” January 2005, www.coverageforall.org/pdf/BC-BS_Uninsured-America.pdf. Roughly another third live in households with annual incomes above $50,000, suggesting that many could reasonably afford to purchase insurance if they chose to do so. Devon Herrick, “Crisis of the Uninsured: 2007,” National Center for Policy analysis Brief Analysis no. 595, September 28, 2007.

Everyone get that?! Closer estimates are 21-31 million uninsured, of which 33% (7-10 million) are eligible for Gov't programs but have not signed up and another 33% (7-10 million) could afford health insurance without reasonable hardship (especially if the Gov't furthers HSAs). So, Michael Moore, 7-11 million sounds more reasonable for the number of uninsured in this country (roughly 2-3.7% of the population).

Is that enough reason to destroy the de facto 'best' health care provider in the world by turning it into a socialized system? No. Read the above-linked study and you'll understand.