In “A Parliament of Whores”, P.J. O’Rourke famously calculated that if we had taken the money he Fed had spent on eradicating poverty since 1964, and simply given it, in cash, to people below the poverty line to raise them to the poverty line, we’d have at least legally eradicated poverty (you’ll note that trillions in spending over three generations have not managed that) and saved billions of dollars back when “billion” was still a very big number.
Which is no dumber than what we have been doing for the past 45 years.
About a year ago, my radio colleague Ed Morrissey and I interviewed a pair of experts on Minnesota’s heath insurance system, with an aim toward deflating the notion that Minnesota is bursting at the seams with uninsured people. When you count Minnesotans who are not already eligible for some other kind of existing public or private health insurance, it turns out that around eight percent of Minnesotans lack coverage.
Which is a problem, but one that can be dealt with without drastic, revolutionary, economy-changing measures.
“But”, I thought, “the rest of the US can’t possibly be doing as well as Minnesota is, right?”
Via Ed, Jazz Shaw at The ModVoice notes that no – but it’s s not nearly as far off as some would have you believe.
Of course, nobody believes it straight from conservative sources – but Shaw is taking his info from the Census Bureau:
Next, we need to go back to the Census Bureau report and turn to page 31 where we are informed that their total number includes the category of those who are listed as “non-citizens” (which are carefully broken out from naturalized citizens vs. native born citizens.) The non-citizen rate of uninsured individuals clocked in at 43.8%, or roughly 9.4 million non-Americans. Since these people are not here legally and not paying into the system, that portion of the crisis is better addressed in a debate on immigration issues, but taxpaying Americans don’t need to be on the hook for that segment of the total.
While the number continues to drop, it’s also worth noting that we’re not talking exclusively about the abject poor who can’t afford insurance. As this Business and Media report informs us, that same Census Bureau summary includes the following:
But according to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326.
Once you do some fairly basic math, you come up with the same figure that the Kaiser Family Foundation arrived at.
The liberal Kaiser Family Foundation puts the number of uninsured Americans who don’t qualify for government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 8.2 million and 13.9 million.
As Ed notes, to buy each of these people private insurance would cost about 50 billion a year.
Since we’re talking a government program, let’s double it just to be safe. 100 billion dollars a year. Which is less than half of what Obama is talking about taking from the economy (which is itself almost certainly a hopelessly low estimate).
But the real story is this; according to the Census Bureau, the very problem that we’re supposedly threatening to dump our entire healthcare system over – the supposed 47 million uninsured Americans – is actually less than a third of that number, under 14 million.