March 06, 2003

Almost 75 Million Americans

74.7 million Americans under age 65 were without health insurance for some or all of the two-year period 2001-2002. This according to a newly released study by Families USA, a health care consumers advocacy group, which based its findings on a statistical analysis of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey for the years 2001 and 2002.

I thought 41 million was really bad. But 74.7 million? How did they arrive at this figure?

Apparently, the standard method of counting the uninsured reports the number of people who did not have any health insurance at any point during the relevant time period. But this does not account for the large number of people who were uninsured for a portion of the period in question. Factor in that previously neglected group, and the number of uninsured rises from 41 to almost 75 million people.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans (30.1%) under the age of 65 were without health insurance at some point during the two-year period 2001-2002. 24 percent of this figure were uninsured for the entire two-year period. 65 percent of this figure were without health insurance for at least 6 months. 90 percent were uninsured for at least 3 months. Nearly 1 in 3! and this in the richest nation the world has never known.

What would it take to change this? I often wish we had a new Dickens: someone who could expose the injustices and outrages of the new (post?)-industrial order not by antagonizing but by speaking to the sensibilities of the middle class. I've been over on the lefty-liberal side for years, and honestly, a lot of our tactics and approaches just do not work.

As Salon points out, "the ranks of the uninsured now cut deeper into the middle class," which could "spur Congress" to attempt some much-needed and long overdue reforms. I wouldn't count on it, not without a lot of pressure from outside the Beltway. The good news: a new coalition of diverse groups -- including Familes USA, the AFL-CIO, the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association -- has formed to push the issue of the uninsurance over the course of the next week. Activities include town hall meetings, health fairs, and prayer breakfasts. And apparently the problem of the uninsured will be featured on the tv shows "ER" and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." I guess these shows are our version of Dickens?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at March 6, 2003 01:44 AM