WHY ARE THE TOTAL FIGURES ON UNINSURED AMERICANS and Residents between 30 MILLION & 90 MILLION? CAN’T ANYONE COUNT??
By Kevin Stoda
This last week, President Obama asked the right questions but he used some questionable statistics. With lackluster, Obama told lackluster Republicans: “I’d like the Republicans to do a little soul searching and find out are there some things that you’d be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance and dealing seriously with the pre-existing condition issue.”
Just last year, the Obama White House had stated numerous times that there were 46 to 48 million (or 60% more than he noted last week) unemployed peoples in the USA who did not have health care. “The claim was made repeatedly in a report published by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) on June 2 and again in an op-ed published the same day by Christina Romer, the chair of CEA.”
“The claim that there are 46 million uninsured ‘Americans’ has also been used by members of Congress and news organizations.” The White House noted that this figure included 10 million non-Americans who do not have health care at the time last Spring when many census figures were counted.
This shift from nearly 50 Million Unemployed in America to 30 Million in less than 9 months is outrageous politics by the White House. As I (not-to-mention-my-wife) am currently an uninsured American living abroad, I would estimate that the number of Americans who are uninsured and are forced to work outside the USA during any recent census might be several million more than the 46 to 48 million figure used by the Obama Administration most of 2009. In other words, Obama’s White House is as of this past week undercounting well-over ten million transient or foreign (& American) laborers in and outside the USA who are not being covered by health care in the USA.
As late as October 2009, the Kaisar Foundation “ha[d] analyzed census data to provide a closer look at the people without health insurance in the U.S. Its report, focused on people younger than age 65, found 45.7 million “nonelderly” uninsured people in the U.S. last year (including the elderly, the number of uninsured was 46.3 million). Low-income adults without dependent children — who generally do not qualify for government programs like Medicaid — were hit hardest. Despite heated rhetoric on the issue, immigrants are not driving the problem; 80% of the uninsured under age 65 are native-born or naturalized citizens. The uncompensated cost of providing health care to the uninsured last year was $57 billion, three-quarters of which was picked up by the Federal Government.”
In the last decade, the federal government and states have only marginally improved health care in one area, i.e for children in the USA—and I am not certain that non-American children are covered as well by good health care. Moreover, the uninsured parents of “insured children” are forced to damage their health further by overworking or stressing themselves out job hunting full-time in today’s market.
Interestingly, there is still another report from CNN in 2009 that nearly 90 million Americans had been uninsured in 2007 and 2008. CNN reported, “The study, commissioned by the consumer health advocacy group Families USA, found 86.7 million Americans were uninsured at one point during the past two years.”
Why is the White House not using these higher, 86.7 million figures to make its point that we need health care across the board?
Worse still, a Raw Story report had already clarified last December 2009, “If Democrats manage to pull off efforts to reform the US healthcare system and ensure coverage for millions who are currently without insurance, the new system — by design — will likely still leave tens of thousands to die without insurance before reforms kick in.”
In addition, “A Raw Story analysis, based on a recent Harvard Medical School study, estimates that 135,000 American citizens and over 6,600 US veterans will die due to a lack of health insurance before current proposed healthcare reform measures would take effect.”
To make the numbers easier to envision for readers, The Raw Story explained, “One hundred and thirty-five thousand US lives far exceeds the total number of Americans who died in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the attacks of 9/11 combined. The lives of over 6,600 US veterans is more — by over 1,300 — than the total number of US soldiers who have thus far died in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”
The only credible source that might indicate that the lower totals of uninsured peoples in America used last week by Obama to talk to Republicans in congress is appropriate comes from a WSJ article. In late June 2009 the Wall Street Journal’s Carl Bialik wrote about the “Unhealthy Accounting of Uninsured Americans”. Bialik noted, “The Census Bureau estimates that the number of uninsured amounts to 45.7 million people. But the agency might be overcounting by millions due to faulty assumptions. Another problem: That 45.7 million figure includes undocumented immigrants, even though they aren’t likely to be covered under new laws.”
I read through Bialik’s article, but found only half of his flawed assumption charges actually held water.
For example, Bialik writes, “Of the rest, some people are eligible for health insurance but don’t know it and many can afford it but don’t want it. About 43% of uninsured nonelderly adults have incomes greater than 2.5 times the poverty level, according to a report released Tuesday by the business-backed Employment Policies Institute.”
Again Bialik is making too many assumptions. I think a lot of civil servants do fail to notify people of their legal eligibilities for health care at the state and federal level.
As well, Bialik ignores the millions of US contract employees and businessmen working abroad to bring earnings back to the USA each year. I, for example, have been making that much money in some of the last 2 decades, but often I have had no health insurance for or within the continental USA. (As a teacher, I often have 2 to 4 months holiday in the year which would theoretically allow me to return t the USA—but due to lack of insurance I have often avoided doing so for more than a month.)
I wonder how many other overseas-laboring (or contracting) Americans in places, like Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere do not have good health care coverage when they return to their families in the USA each year.
This condition of “failing to have state-side insurance” does not have to do with the fact that these individuals do not want insurance. Other realities, like pre-existing conditions rules or the very high start-up costs of health care for a one to three month-long visit back in the USA are too much to put financially together at one time for most Americans with families. (i.e. Have you tried to get good short-duration full time health coverage in the USA? How much do you think it costs?)
In summary, why is Obama Administration slacking off on using a well-backed statistic that there were nearly 50 million people in American in 2009 who were uninsured? The President needs to be using robust figures and stronger language in protecting interests and concerns of all Americans anywhere and all peoples living within its borders.