Some truths behind the numbers of uninsured

In my earlier post, Bad Medicine, between the post itself and subsequent updates, I went back and forth about the numbers of uninsured, moving from 8% t 15%. According to Larry Elder, it turns out my original estimate and my later estimate may both have been right, since the numbers depend on the time of day and the nature of the population you’re examining:

Nearly 50 million “Americans” lack health-care insurance. At least, director Michael Moore makes this claim in “Sicko,” his new “documentary” about America’s supposedly awful health-care system.

Nearly 50 million Americans without health-care insurance? For what it’s worth, the Centers for Disease Control puts the number of uninsured at 43.6 million, and the Census Bureau at 44.8 million.

First, understand that lack of health-care “insurance” does not mean a lack of health care. Many emergency rooms, by law, provide medical care to anyone who walks in, whether an illegal or legal resident of this country.

Second, when Moore asserts that 50 million Americans lack health care insurance, he most assuredly includes some of the estimated 11 million to 20 million illegal aliens living here. Of people born in America, 86 percent have health-care coverage. For non-citizens, only 57 percent have health-care insurance.

Now examine those who lack health-care insurance.

Nearly half go without health insurance only for four months or less, usually while between jobs. Others with employment could easily add health-care insurance through their work for a very small premium. Many without health-care insurance consist of young people (18 million uninsured are between the ages of 18 and 34) who consider themselves — given their youth and good health — unlikely to face large health-care costs.

Over 14 million of the uninsured, according to the Census Bureau, live in households earning $50,000 or more annually. Over 7 million are in households earning more than $75,000 a year. These people could afford health-care insurance, either out-of-pocket or by making minor adjustments to their lifestyles. A small number of the uninsured include criminals. Should taxpayers provide health care for them, as well?

Michael Moore seems to have mastered lies, damn lies and statistics.

12 Responses

  1. […] UPDATE III:  Larry Elder, who has actually studied the numbers, hews to my side on the “numbers of uninsured” argument, pointing out that the numbers vary based on the time of day you’re examining them and the population you include. […]

  2. Actually, hardly anybody in this country has what in the real world would be referred to as “insurance.” I’ve said this before: I don’t know what you call what most of us have, but it’s a misuse of the term “insurance.” Insurance is for emergencies. Going to the doctor – unless you’re actively bleeding on the floor, or projectile vomiting, or something similar, isn’t an emergency. Our “insurance” as it is applied medically would be analagous to your car insurance paying for oil changes (after all, that’s certainly preventive); or your homeowners insurance paying to paint the house (also preventive).

    And I also wonder who decided that medical coverage should be a “right.” The family doctor is a relatively recent phenomenon – only the last hundred years or thereabouts – I wonder from whence came the idea that having one is a right. I know the argument’s been pounded into the ground a million times, but I’ve yet to hear it reasonably, or even adequately, refuted: if medical care is a “right,” then obviously so is food, shelter, etc., etc., and ultimately the government ends up buying everyone a Ferrari, because if you have a license you certainly have a “right” to the best and fastest car, correct?

    I’m sorry: in this life you mostly have a “right” to whatever you can afford – period. This includes Armani suits, Rolex watches, Peal shoes, and Ferraris: everyone would like those things, those who get them are mostly those who can pay for them. I have yet to understand why medicine is or should be considered any differently.

  3. JJ (#2) said: “if medical care is a “right,” then obviously so is food, shelter, etc., etc., and ultimately the government ends up buying everyone a Ferrari, because if you have a license you certainly have a “right” to the best and fastest car, correct?”

    That’s an interesting point, and one I never thought about. I’m thinking about it now.

  4. To paraphrase the incomparable El Rushbo, the difference between a “right” and an “entitlement” is that an individual’s right makes no economic or political claim upon another individual, whereas an entitlement does. So, an “entitlement” to healthcare, food or shelter, etc. demands of individuals their money and labor to provide such an entitlement for another individual. Ergo, an entitlement to healthcare basically demands that either a) doctors, nurses etc. provide their labor for “free” or b) taxpayer’s pony-up their hard-earned income (derived from their labor) to provide that entitlement.

    As far as “free” healthcare in Cuba is concerned, remember that the people of Cuba are Castro’s property. They live and work for his enrichment. Slaves, like livestock, are valuable property and even livestock get “free” healthcare. The quality of “free” healthcare they receive is not a function of their choices but rather what the Castro regime is willing to provide at their discretion.

  5. Danny’s foray into semantics is correct – I should have said “entitled” to health care, and referred to “entitlements” instead of “rights.”

    I woulda, too; if I’d’a thought of it.

  6. Thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, Rush Li-im-bauuuuuuuuuuuugh!

    Remember that great vocal? Wonderful stuff!

  7. OK- folks. I found the rest of the Stuart Browning videos on Canadian healthcare and the ills that Michael Moore and Hillary want to foist upon us.

    See them at: http://www.freemarketcure.com.

    Remember – nationalized healthcare is rationed and politicized healthcare (see esp. “two women”). Those with political clout will get treatment – the rest, oh well!

  8. Nationalized health care is also non-innovative. It stagnates.

    The typical American approach to problems breaks down with health care, however. Our typical solution starts with a free-market approach; then we layer on extensive regulations and we put a safety net at the bottom to catch the unfortunates.

    For problems such as a need for housing, food, education, etc, this has tended to “work”, in that the strength of opposition forces is blunted. Some food, some housing, some education suffices. For health care, the safety net doesn’t appear to work. “Some health care” cannot deal with conditions requiring expensive treatment. For loved ones suffering from cancer or other conditions that are extremely expensive to handle, “some health care” provides powerful haves vs have-nots imagery for the propagandists.

    Most of us here believe as I do: socialism inevitably produces widespread misery in anything it touches, creating an inevitable stagnation, decay and downward spiral. Our best hope is to counter the imagery of the leftist propagandists with imagery of our own of socialist “utopian” health care systems. If we’re right in our beliefs, that shouldn’t be too difficult. There are quite a few countries that are decades into socialist health care experiments, and the widespread miseries in their slowly-collapsing systems should be easy to locate. We’re not doing a very good job of providing that counter-imagery so far.

  9. While I usually agree with your analysis and agree with most of this posting, you’ve too quickly dismissed those who are employed and could get insurance for a “small” premium. For many of those, the premium isn’t so small a percentage of what is being spent on basic needs. And what do you mean by “small” anyway?

  10. Babbie: Good question. The “small premium” language is Larry Elder’s, not mine, though, so I wouldn’t know what he is thinking. I would say small varies for each family, and really involves where they put their money. If Dad drives a Beemer, but elects to be self-insured, that’s one thing. If they’re a family of six, living in an expensive community, that’s another. Although one could argue that, perhaps, they should move to a cheaper community. We all have to make decisions, and so many of them are difficult ones. I would castigate only those who buy luxury items, both because of a hubris that has them believing they’ll never get sick, and because of a carelessness that has them willing to shift the cost of ER care to everyone else.

  11. […] Hillary Clinton, of course, isn’t that far behind, although she’s smart enough to have framed her ideas to sound more moderate. Although she claims the plan is “not government run,” she nevertheless intends to have the government oversee a program that insures 47 million people, with a cool $110,000,000,000 annual price tag. If a program that costly doesn’t have oversight it should; and once it does, you’ve got government deeply involved in the health care business. (And we won’t even touch the fact that at least some of these millions of uninsured are people who could afford insurance but….) […]

  12. […] Hillary Clinton, of course, isn’t that far behind, although she’s smart enough to have framed her ideas to sound more moderate. Although she claims the plan is “not government run,” she nevertheless intends to have the government oversee a program that insures 47 million people, with a cool $110,000,000,000 annual price tag. If a program that costly doesn’t have oversight it should; and once it does, you’ve got government deeply involved in the health care business. (And we won’t even touch the fact that at least some of these millions of uninsured are people who could afford insurance but….) […]

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