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August 28, 2007

The Un-insured

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .

Evangelize the Downsize DC message. Please forward this to others.

Quote of the Day:

Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.

Subject: The Un-insured

Many people have asked: “What about people with no health insurance?” Or, “How many people die in America because they lack coverage?”

These are good questions. They were two of my main questions when I started researching this issue.

The most commonly heard estimate for the number of Americans without health insurance is 45 million. That’s a whopping, scary number. Alas, it is also highly misleading. John Stossel of ABC News has used research by the U.S. Census Bureau to expose the deeper truth behind this scary number. It turns out that . . .

  • 37% of the un-insured live in households earning more than $50,000 a year (and 19% live in households earning more than $75,000). Can people at these income levels afford major medical insurance? Yes. Should they be subsidized by you and me? No. Subtract this group and the number of uninsured people drops to roughly 28 million.
  • 20% of the un-insured are non-citizens. Should you and I pay to insure them through a top-down federal monopoly? We think not. Subtract this group and the number of un-insured people drops to roughly 19 million.
  • 33% of the un-insured are already eligible for existing government programs. No new program is needed for people who are already covered by current programs. Subtract them and the number of uninsured people drops to roughly 4 million. This is much more likely to be the true size of the problem.

45 million vs. 4 million — that’s a huge difference! Now here’s the kicker . . .

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a standard health insurance deduction would make it financially possible for 7 million additional people to buy coverage. And another study by the Treasury Department arrives at a similar estimate. Thus . . .

Congress could wipe out the un-insurance problem in one swoop — not by creating a new program, not by spending more money, and not by monopolizing American health care, but simply by letting people keep more of their own money to spend on health insurance.

Moreover, as we understand it, the proposed health insurance deduction could be structured to apply to payroll and Medicare taxes too, which are regressive taxes that hurt low income Americans far more than income taxes do.

Best of all, a standard health insurance deduction wouldn’t just help those with lower incomes, it would help everyone who has to purchase their own insurance.

Now, what about the number of Americans who die because they have no health insurance? As far as we can tell that number is effectively very small, and almost certainly nothing like the 18,000 deaths that Michael Moore claims in “Sicko.” Here’s why . . .

Hospitals are legally required to provide treatment, regardless of ability to pay. Most doctors will also provide routine medical care to the indigent, because this is part of the medical ethos.

In fact, these are two of the main ways low-income non-citizens without insurance get treatment, in addition to the already existing programs at the local, state, and, alas, federal level.

This is not to say that some people don’t fall through the cracks, because of incompetence, or for other random reasons. They do. Perfection is not an option in this imperfect world. It is simply to say that our current system has no fundamental systemic flaw leading to widespread death such as we see with health care rationing in the socialist systems.

We could simply leave it at this and say case closed. Congress could solve the problem of the un-insured with one simple change. No federal health care monopoly is needed. In fact, we have shown that government health care monopolies in other countries have led to unneeded deaths through rationing and waiting lists. So . . .

These facts should be enough for everyone to oppose any further funding of personal health care expenses at the federal level.

But we aren’t done yet. Our current system would still have problems, even if Congress closes the insurance gap by creating a standard health insurance deduction. After all, the horror stories Michael Moore tells in “Sicko” are true, and similar things would continue to happen far too often, even if we closed the insurance gap.

There are still many other things that could be changed to dramatically improve our existing half-social-fascist health care system, so that we could make health care cheaper and better for everyone. We will cover these issues in future messages.

We will also expose and puncture more myths about American health care . . .

  • We will expose the tricky means by which Americans are forced to subsidize the socialist health systems in countries like Britain, France, and Canada, so that they seem more efficient than they actually are.
  • We will puncture the rankings published by the World Health Organization, showing how they’re rigged to punish the American system for things it does well, while rewarding socialist systems for things they do poorly.
  • We will debunk the egalitarian myth that socialized health care systems provide equal treatment to all. We will demonstrate that these systems are highly stratified, providing more health care to some, less to others, and generally poor care to all.
  • Finally, we will show how the health of the whole world depends on saving what’s left of the free market in America’s health care system, and expanding that system to do even better by moving even more in the direction of a truly free market.

But the fact that there are so many widely believed myths about health care points to a fundamental problem that must be solved. Myth-based propaganda is winning the war for the American mind, because reality-based information is largely absent from the public debate.

Only we can change that. We can change the debate by forwarding these messages far and wide, and by pounding Congress, to penetrate their myth-shrouded echo chamber.

  • We must let Congress know that we know the truth.
  • We must tell them that we expect them to know and speak the truth too, and act on it, to improve our health care rather than make it worse.

Achieving these goals is up to you. We provide the tools to do it, but you must use them. Please do two things . . .

  1. Forward this message to others.
  2. Send Congress a message opposing further federal funding of personal health care expenses. In your personal comments you can cut and paste the above statistics to let Congress know that you know what the truth is, and that you know they have the power to make things better simply by letting people keep more of their own money. You can send your message here.

Finally, please make a contribution to further our work, so that we can do more to win the public debate.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Perry Willis
Communications Director, Inc.

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