Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Immorality and the Uninsured.  But Who Are The Uninsured?
It’s a disgrace that we have millions of people who are uninsured.
General Colin Powell (born 1937), American general  and former Secretary  of State
The foundations of morality are like all foundations; if you dig too much about them; the superstructure will come tumbling down.
Samuel Butler (1835-1902),  Notebooks
May 16, 2012 -  A sense of morality – and collective guilt – drives most societies to adapt health systems promising universal coverage.  Such coverage is said to be a “right” not a “privilege”, for there is little most of of us can do to ward off sickness, chronic disease, or death.
Universal coverage, eliminating the uninsured, and higher taxes,  you can effectively  argue, are the price of a civilized and moral society. 

But who are the uninsured?  Should we feel guilt  about not covering all of them?  Should we consider ourselves a pariah among nations for not covering everyone?
Yes, many progressives argue,  but according to Sally Pipes,  Canadian expatriate and president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute who wrote The Truth about Obamacare,  we should not let  guilt overcome us until we understand who makes up the uninsured.
The U.S, Census Bureau reported 46. 3 million Americans as uninsured in 2009, 15.4 % of the population. 

These included:
  • About 9.7 million, 21% of total, making more than $75.000 a year.
  • Another 8 million, 27% of total making $50,000 to $75,000.
  • As many as  14 million, 30%, who were eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), but chose not to enroll. 
  • Six million, 13% of total uninsured who were eligible for employer-sponsored insurance but don’t opt in.  
  •  Recent legal immigrants, who numbered 5 million, but who may not have choosen to buy insurance, make up 11%. 
  • Finally, 5.2 million illegal immigrants, another 11% . who  were without insurance. 
  • Pipes concludes, “Assuming some overlap with these numbers, there are , at most, 10 million U.S. citizens, who lacked affordable health insurance. “  This is much less “scary’ than 46.3 million, says Pipes, especially when one considers those who could not afford insurance, by law, have to be seen in hospital emergency rooms.
This is not to say, she adds,  people don'y need help. Many do.   Many make less than $50,000 and cannot afford care.  They need basic, affordable insurance plans with lower premiums and catastrophic care.  One way to achieve this is through health savings accounts, which have much lower premiums.   As many as one-third of those signing up for HSAs were previously uninsured.
Ten million uninsured is still 10 million too many.  But heavy govenment regulatio,  which will force employers to cover people in comprehensive government approved plans,  will send premiums soaring and cause employers to drop more workers from coverage, may not be the answer especially if federal policies  shift even more onto the uninsured and Medicaid rolls.

Tweet:   Of the 46.3 million uninsured in America, as many as 36 million can either afford insurance, or are eligible but have not signed up for government or unemployment insurance.

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