Advocates of government-run health care incessantly tell us that millions of Americans are financially unable to acquire health insurance. The WSJ debunks this and other canards:

The notion that there are 46 million Americans who can’t get the health care they need for lack of money or public assistance is a myth.

Who says it’s a myth? Some VRWC publication run by evil neocons? Nope.

A study published in Health Affairs in November 2006 estimated that 25% of the uninsured were in fact eligible for public coverage, and another 20% probably could afford coverage on their own.

And what about access? Aren’t the uninsured denied health care? Nope.

Another recent study, published in Health Affairs in August … estimated that uninsured Americans will receive $86 billion worth of health care in 2008.

But who is paying for this care? Well, a lot is being paid for by the patients.

The study published in Health Affairs estimated that the uninsured would pay for $30 billion of their health-care costs this year — more than one-third — out of pocket.

The basic point should be obvious to the meanest intelligence. The “plight of the uninsured” has been wildly exaggerated and doesn’t justify insurance mandates or a dramatic increase in government meddling.

Comments 6

  1. Bill Boissiere wrote:

    How do you react to the recent study showing that 40,000+ people per year die because of a lack of health insurance?

    A. I don’t believe that study
    B. It’s such a small number we should not do anything about it. Let them die.
    C. We should not try to cover these people, but instead launch a campaign to educate them to try and find a charity that can help them
    D. It’s a shame! They should be covered in some way.
    E. A sub-segment of these 40,000 should be covered: children & pregnant women. Let the rest die.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 2:50 am
  2. Catron wrote:

    The answer is a resounding A. That “study” was produced by the fine folks at PNHP, notorious for fudging their data. See this post.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 6:36 am
  3. Marc Brown wrote:

    What would you tell a 39 year old uninsured woman who has had kidney cancer for two years but is not eligible for Medicaid and who has never been able to get anything other than piecemeal treatment and certainly no major surgery or drugs – and the cancer is spreading? This is a real case – I can send her blog link if you like, and there are many more like her.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 8:10 am
  4. Catron wrote:

    Virtually every hospital in the U.S. has a charity program for such patients. I routinely approve large balance charity write-offs for patients who have received VERY expensive treatments. The yearly total for this program runs into many millions of dollars.

    Ironically, Marc, it is well-documented that uninsured Americans receive more and better health care than “insured” Brits trapped in the NHS.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 9:35 am
  5. Bill Boissiere wrote:

    I’m curious — if you were an alien first coming to Earth and your captain asked you to look at all the health care systems in the world, what numbers do you think matter the most to determine which countries have the best overall system.

    Pick the ones that you think matter the most in order (feel free to add to my list):

    - % of centenarians in the population
    - Infant mortality
    - Life expectancy
    - % of the population happy with their health care
    - Number of doctors / thousands
    - Cost of health care / average wage

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 12:43 pm
  6. Catron wrote:

    Most of these metrics are meaningless as measurements of a nation’s health system. The only one to which I’d pay any attention at all is the “happy with their health care” percentage.

    As it happens, the U.S. comes out pretty well on the “happiness” scale. Meanwhile, here’s a link showing that Canadians are far less happy with their much-lauded system.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 1:55 pm

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