When we hear the line “47 million Americans go without health insurance” the image that immediately comes to mind for most people is either a sick child or a working-class family caught in the trap of making too much money for Medicare but not enough to pay for insurance premiums. This is an inaccurate picture. To be sure, healthcare coverage is an important issues and needs to be addressed by the next president, but often info about the problem is spun in a misleading way.
According to the 2006 Census report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage, by far the largest population group to go without health insurance is young adults ages 18-34, making up about 2/5 of all those uninsured. This group tends to be in good health, and generally does not stay uninsured for more than a couple of years at most. This is most likely due to factors like since this group tends to be healthy they don’t feel they need to spend the money on insurance, or that they’re making the transition from high school and college into the work force, have not gotten a job with health care yet, and will not go uninsured for long.
Children living in poverty were the most likely group of children to be uninsured, which I find interesting since Medicare exists so that those living in poverty will not go without healthcare. If you live below what is considered the “poverty line” and are a citizen of the US you should be eligible for Medicare, so perhaps their parents have not obtained coverage for them. Since the State Children Health Insurance Program ( SCHIP) was made into law states are working on developing plans that cover every uninsured child in their state regardless of income (some states, like New York, even cover illegal immigrants under these plans). The problem of uninsured children is being taken care of and soon there will be no more children that go without healthcare, even if the new president did absolutely nothing. Neither candidate can really claim that they will save the uninsured child. The only problem that will remain is making sure parents sign their children up for these programs.
Considering that 1/7th of the federal budget is spent on health care, health care is, indeed, expensive. Most full time jobs (and even many part time jobs) offer employees some kind of access to healthcare. It isn’t free, and it’s up to the employees to decide to opt-into these plans. If the employee decides that healthcare is not a priority to them and they do not want to spend the money necessary to gain access to their employer’s plan it’s their personal decision and I’m not sure the government has any responsibility to convince them their health is worth spending money on to insure. There’s nothing we can do to force people to have health insurance, short of making it illegal to go without, which neither candidate is suggesting.
“If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.”
The biggest fallacy of the Obama healthcare plan is that it would cover every America. It wouldn’t. It would provide the option of health care, but it would still cost money and I suspect that lots of those uninsured adults between 18-34 would still rather spend the money on something else. It wouldn’t do any more to insure children than is already being done independently of his plan.
At the end of the day it would be the individual’s choice to obtain coverage for themselves, and short of becoming a true socialist nation there is nothing America can do to make sure that happens.