Uninsured Week: Get The Other Side


NCPA Health Policy Experts Available to Provide Balance to Uninsured Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 10, 2003) -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with several other organizations, have declared this "Cover the Uninsured Week," and are scheduled to stage a series of events to focus attention on the problem and proposed solutions.

As you prepare to cover these events, health policy experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the nation's leading proponent of a pro-patient approach to health policy, are available to provide balance to this discussion.

Who: National Center for Policy Analysis
What: Alternative Analysis of Uninsured Problem/Solution
When: Available Immediately
Contact: NCPA Public Affairs At 800-859-1154 To Schedule


NCPA Fact Sheet On The Uninsured

Background on the Problem

  • Of the 41 million uninsured, 14 million uninsured Americans are eligible for - but not enrolled in - government-sponsored plans: SCHIP and Medicaid.
  • An additional 13 million uninsured Americans have income levels in excess of $50,000, and many have access to affordable healthcare coverage.
  • The fastest-growing income segment of the uninsured makes more than $75,000 a year.

Incentives

  • Middleclass Americans with employer-sponsored plans get federal and state income tax subsidies equal to about 50 percent of the cost of their insurance.
  • Because people who buy their own private health insurance get virtually no tax relief, the after-tax cost of health insurance for them is twice as high.
  • One reason why people remain uninsured is that the U.S. spends $35 billion on free health care for the uninsured - about $800 per person each year. When the value of physicians' time is included, the amount of free care exceeds $1,000 per uninsured individual.
  • Another reason: we are making it increasingly easy for people to become insured after they get sick, and thus avoid paying high premiums while they are healthy.

Solutions

  • Most of the uninsured have no opportunity to obtain tax subsidized, employer provided health insurance.
  • The Bush administration proposes tax credits for low income people who buy their own health insurance: the subsidy is equal to $1,000 per person.
  • Ironically, those who claim to be most concerned about the uninsured have been consistent opponents of tax relief for people who buy their own insurance.
  • A more comprehensive solution, proposed by the National Center for Policy Analysis, would link spending on free care with tax subsidies for those who buy their own insurance. The proposal would guarantee an adequate safety net without out encouraging people to be uninsured.
  • Expanding public programs is not a good solution: Every dollar spent on public insurance (Medicare, S-CHIP, etc.) reduces spending on private insurance by as much as 75 cents.