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September 04, 2007

Health insurance debate: 47 million Americans at risk?

Thanks to a combination of laziness, incompetence with numbers and (especially) ideological crusading, we are in the middle of a stretch of the most pervasive and dishonest bad journalism I have ever seen in the United States. I refer to the stories which assert that 47 million Americans (or 6.8 million Californians) are without health insurance.

No, they're not.

At some point over the past 12 months, an estimated 47 million people in this country and 6.8 million people in California have been without health insurance. At any single point in time, the number of people without health insurance has been estimated at 5 million for California. I haven't seen a national figure, but if the California ratio works nationally, that would mean about 34.5 million people are without health insurance at this moment.

Are they all Americans? Do you consider illegal immigrants and resident aliens to be Americans? There are some people out there who will see this as racist. There are more people who will see this as common sense.

Page 29 of this Census Bureau report shows that 10.2 million of the 47 million people who at some point within the past year didn't have health insurance are noncitizens.

OK, so we're down to 36.8 million Americans who at some point within the past year didn't have health insurance. The snapshot in time number, if the California ratio held up: 27 million Americans are, at this moment, without health insurance.

Sure seems less scary than 47 million Americans, huh?

But let's take it further. According to the research of one of the biggest advocates of expanding health coverage in the nation -- the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation -- 19 percent of the uninsured have family incomes more than triple the federal poverty level but choose for their own reasons to go without health insurance.

19 percent of 27 million is 5.13 million.

The Kaiser research also documents that 25 percent of the uninsured are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program but do not sign up. This is the single part of the health insurance debate that drives me most bonkers. A gigantic hunk of the problem is oblivious individuals -- and irresponsible parents. How often do you hear about this? Never.

Click here for your free California health insurance quote.

Posted by healthinsurance at September 4, 2007 12:05 PM