A recent report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that over 47 million Americans have no health insurance, a whopping 15.9 percent of the current population in the United States. This is naturally alarming and reason for some Presidential candidate panderers to take up the issue and come up with Universal Health Insurance proposals for all Americans. They state that it is shameful that this country, the leader of the free world has so many people in their midst without this vital living component. Consequentially, they all promise to fix this dire situation and take care of these ‘uninsured victims’.
We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ have to agree that this number as a whole could be alarmingly high but we do not subscribe to the argument that anything mandatory is the answer. Before any corrective measures are being taken, there should be much greater scrutiny into how this huge number of uninsured has been calculated. We assume that it was not just a computer modeling exercise but a serious effort looking deep into America’s demographics. But unfortunately, this detail is not being shared with us all, we got just the summaries in total, in percentages of population and in comparison with previous years.
This should concern everybody who has some common sense in that it is incomplete and unverifiable data. From the report it can be seen that they had detailed data that allowed them to compare the several population groups, Whites versus Blacks and Hispanics but nothing in terms of age groups or if they included the approximately 12 million illegal aliens in America in their report.
For lack of more detailed information, we have done a limited search into the age demographics of America by using the U.S. Census Bureau results of 2000. The total population was presented as being 281,421,906 and that allows us to assume that our population has grown by about 20 million since then. Using this increase of 7.1 percent we can now approximate the numbers in each age group. Now then, if we can assume that most young people are no longer covered by their parents health insurance policies, ‘they have flown the coop’ so to speak. They either continue their education or get jobs and are on their own.
The age group of 18 to 24 year olds totals about 29 million and the next age group of 25 to 34 year olds totals approximately 42.7 million individuals, together they are not quite 72 million young people. Does anybody want to guess how many of them feel strongly about having health insurance that they will set aside enough money for premiums? We have to recognize that their salaries are not among the highest and their paychecks are generally barely enough to make ends meet. Do not get us wrong here, we are not demeaning these young Americans by stating that they are irresponsible when it comes to taking care of their health by taking out health insurance.
On the other hand, paying for living accommodations and expenses, their transportation and making payments on their credit cards are definitely a priority since lack of those payments could have detrimental effects on their lives. Besides, young people for the most part enjoy greater health than other age groups and are therefore more inclined to consider it a lesser priority. This brings us to the next question: How many of these young people do not have health insurance? Without going overboard, we think that it is not excessive that probably about a third of them are without health insurance and that equates to 24 million. This is about half of the total number of uninsured. Since this is their choice and they are adults, let us therefore not make ‘victims’ out of them.
This would leave 23 million without health coverage. The report states that the number of uninsured children is over 8 million, considering that they live with at least one parent, this would mean at least 17 million people are without health coverage leaving about 6 million in older age groups. This still leaves open our earlier question as to whether or not the 12 million illegal aliens are included in this report.
We fully understand that these numbers are ‘guestimates’ (a mix between guesses and estimates) but we believe that it is necessary to have this information available before we, as a population jump on the bandwagon of the Presidential candidates in the Democrat party by endorsing their conclusions that only Universal Health Insurance programs in America, passed by Congress and signed into law by the next President are the answers to solving this problem. All candidates should be questioned on this instead of giving them a pass. Senator Hillary Clinton worked on just such a Universal Health Plan when she was First Lady in 1993/1994. Her proposal then did not even come out of committee in a Democrat Congress.
Her competitor, former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate, John Edwards has already made his plan public to solve this ‘grave’ problem with a program that will only cost $120 billion a year and mandates annual check-ups and doctor visits for all as part of health prevention. Now how will this be administered? What if someone does not go to the doctor, will he or she be kicked out of the plan or fined? On the one hand, these young people are mature enough to vote, possibly not smart enough to take out health insurance and that is why the government has to step in to take care of them. We can expect in the coming months competing plans from the other candidates as well, likely from both sides of the political spectrum.
We will stay tuned and report on this as events warrant. And you will agree that it will have to be paid for. In the meantime we here are taking sides with P.J. O’Rourke, a Civil Libertarian and the H.L. Mencken Research Fellow of the Cato Institute and correspondent of the Atlantic Monthly and the Weekly Standard magazines, who stated when it comes to health insurance:
“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it is free!”
This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation. It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material. We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.