The health care system of the United States, as of 2007, costs $2.4 trillion or 17% of the GDP. So why is it so many seem to go without so much?
For health care reform advocates, that is those who support a government run plan, this number of 46 million uninsured has become a rallying cry for their cause. For those against a government sponsored option, the 46 million has been broken down into subsets-and called propaganda-which greatly decreases the number of Americans who cannot readily afford health care or insurance.
This is going to be an honest attempt at presenting the numbers in a very simple way which might shed a little light on both claims to see where the truth lay.
Those against a government option claim that a larger percentage of people not possessing health care are younger Americans who chose not to purchase it, but can afford it, because they view themselves as healthy enough not to need it or feel it gets in the way of purchasing other items they view as necessities. The other argument often cited is that of millions of illegal immigrants are being counted within the number of uninsured.
Let’s start off with a recent American Spectator article which states,
In 2007, 17.6 million of the uninsured had annual incomes of more than $50,000 and 9.1 million earned more than $75,000.
Factually this is true as a whole. However once you look at the the data in the Census Bureau’s 2007 report on the uninsured and dig, you see a little bit of a different picture.
From the Census Bureau, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007.”
The 18-24 year old demographic represents 7,991,000 of the uninsured and the 25-34 year old group comprises the other 10,329,000 of the 17.9 million they are citing. (Page 30 of 84) But the claim that the average yearly incomes of these two groups is $50,000, is not backed up by the Bureau report.
What is is the median income of these two groups represented as a whole averages $31,790/year for the 15-24 group and $51,016/year for the 25-34 group. (Page 15 of 84)
Looking further you see the income to poverty ratio of these two demographics is surprisingly high. (The poverty to income ratio of is the representation of person(s) below, at, or slightly above the poverty line.)
The 18-24 sits at 6,306,000 below, at, or slightly above the poverty line. The 25-34 demographic is 6,704,000 below, at, or slightly above. (Page 24 of 84) So, the total number of people within these two demographics who more than likely cannot afford health insurance is 13,010,000. Keeping in mind that the number of uninsured within these two demographics sits at approximately 18,320,000. By taking the difference of these numbers it leaves you with a deficit of 5,310,000 between those we know cannot afford health care and those who possibly can afford it.
It seems on this point there might be something to consider to the Spectator’s point. However, their numbers are obviously exaggerated.
The non-citizen uninsured claim is far easier to confirm. The Spectator states that,
Just a quick look inside the Census Bureau data shows that 9.7 million of the uninsured are not citizens of the United States.
The Census Bureau actually confirms this number on page 30 of 84. According to their 2007 study, 9,737,000 are non-citizens of the United States.
So what we are left with by this amateurish look at the Census data is the advocate claim of 46 million uninsured reduced by 15,047,000. Leaving us with 30,953,000 Americans who apparently cannot afford health care insurance.
The final claim AmSpec makes is that,
When all these factors are put together, the 2003 BlueCross BlueShield study determined that 8.2 million Americans are actually without coverage for the long haul, because they are too poor to purchase health care but earn too much to qualify for government assistance.
So their number is 8.2 million. I have to respectfully disagree.
On a side bar, you will notice an item of interest on page 30 of 84 the greatest percentage of the uninsured come form median income groups ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 and above. Out of the “46 million persons uninsured,” the combination of all of these median income groups is 32,118,000 people. This leaves 13,539,000 who make under $25,000/year, making up the rest of the uninsured.
By my highly untrained and dull mind, the number of Americans who cannot afford health care apparently sits somewhere between 13.5 million and 30.9 million. As a percentage of the population this is anywhere from about 4.5% to a little over 10%.
Now you can do with these numbers what you like. This is just the data extrapolated from the Bureau, how you want to interpret it or form your opinion is solely up to you.