09 September 2009

Elementary math

In case you did not catch it, in his speech tonight, President Obama referred to "more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage." That's a pretty big difference from the "47 million uninsured" number which has been tossed about for months.

Why the change?

The White House explains tonight that they have subtracted 10 million illegal immigrants and 5 million they believe can afford insurance, but choose not to get it.

Those are interesting concessions, which I think need to be highlighted, because they are the most damaging to his overall call for radical reform. By reducing his estimate of those who "cannot get coverage," he maintains the call for universal coverage, yet concedes that the number of uninsured is not the same thing as the number who need government help to get it.

The same census report which concluded that 46 (not 47) million were uninsured also shows that 17.6 million of them make more than $50,000 a year. It is not unreasonable to conclude that all of those can get coverage if they choose. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports enrollment of 18 million more people in those programs than the Census Bureau reports. Other estimates put the number of reported "uninsured" who are currently eligible for government programs conservatively at 10 million.

The number that "cannot get coverage" is now reduced to 9 million. Another 5-10 million of the uninsured are only temporarily without coverage; for example, people between jobs who opt not to pay for COBRA or temporary coverage.

Clearly, there is some overlap between these groups, but it is clear that the number of people who truly "cannot get coverage" is not only dramatically lower than the number Obama himself has now abandoned, but is likely closer to 5-8 million people.

That may be a problem the American people think the government should address, but a radical overhaul of the entire insurance industry, medical industry and tax code is not the way to do it.

1 comment:

jenniferw said...

Great post and great calculating! Not even the wonderful Wizard of Oz could do half of what Obama claimed he could do tonight. The man is delusional.