NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

NO 'CRISIS' OF UNINSURED

January 12, 2007

The National Center for Policy Analysis and Dr. David Gratzer, in his new book, "The Cure," effectively debunk the myths of the uninsured. 

The ploy, explains columnist Mike Rosen, is to pretend that a rotating aggregate or a snapshot is the same thing as a permanent population.  Fifty-nine million is the aggregate number of those who at some time during the year, even if only for a day, were without health insurance.  This is a meaningless statistic.

The uninsured can include those between jobs or students just out of school:

  • The Census Bureau estimates that the average family that loses its health insurance will be reinsured within 5 1/2 months; 75 percent will be reinsured within one year.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 21 million and 31 million Americans may be uninsured for the entire year, including about 12 million foreign-born residents many of whom are here illegally.
  • The largest group, 42 percent, of longer-term uninsured, about 19 million, are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Most are healthy and could afford health insurance but choose to gamble, opting to run the risk of going uninsured rather than forgoing current consumption, says Rosen.  This is motivated in part by the ease of acquiring government-regulated health insurance after becoming ill or obtaining free treatment at a hospital emergency room if unable to pay.

While the number of those without health insurance has grown by 3 million between 1996-2003, that's primarily because the nation's population has grown, much of it from illegal immigration.  In fact, the percentage of those without insurance, 15.6 percent, is unchanged over the period. 

We have health insurance problems, to be sure, but no "crisis," and no justification for converting the world's highest quality health-care system into another plodding government bureaucracy, says Rosen.

Source: Mike Rosen, "No 'crisis' of uninsured," Rocky Mountain News, January 12, 2007; and David Gratzer, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save Health Care," Encounter Books, October 9, 2006.

 

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