Thursday, September 10, 2009

only 46.3 million?

The new number of uninsured arrives, and of course, we learn it has gone up to 46.3 million and that the number would be larger were it not for the growth of government programs like medicaid. The key number here though is "2008"; according to we've lost 6.9 million jobs since the recession began in December of 2007, and I believe the majority of these have been over the past twelve months. Job losses for late fall and winter 2008--09 were some of the largest by month, and the vast, vast majority of these people have not yet been counted as uninsured.

Medicaid is seeing greater numbers qualify for their programs, so in a way, we will be moving toward a larger government-run option regardless of what Congress and the President are able to pass later this month. Medicaid is hardly a solution for middle-class people who lived within their means and were able to save money over the course of their now-interrupted working lives. Both Republicans and Democrats represent themselves as catering to middle-class savers, so it would seem that fixing existing programs, including Medicaid, could help government officials improve their standing in polls of the "American people." (As it turns out, according to, 78 percent of us feel we should be able to purchase the same coverage as our elected officials.)

Let me explain why Medicaid doesn't help savers. For the most part, Medicaid is a state-run program, and I've learned that in one state a family can have no more than 30,000 dollars in savings to qualify regardless of their current income (including retirement savings, IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401ks, 403bs, etc.). This means that the hypothetical person who loses his or her job must buy COBRA or another private policy (read "commercial catastrophic coverage") in order to have any health insurance until they've depleted their savings. 30,000 American dollars is certainly a nice a chunk of change, but in the larger picture, when rent plus groceries plus utilities plus health insurance plus everything else is included we see that even a single person with no smoking or pre-existing conditions in a shared-living arrangment (who of course only ate on Tuesday nights at the Sonic 50-cent burger window) could move through that rather quickly.
So what?

So not much more than my expectation is that over 50 million Americans will be seen as without health insurance for 2009 unless they all qualify for medicaid because there is so little cash left in their bank accounts.

Does doing nothing in fact lead us to the single-payer solution? Congressman Joe Wilson, did I see you raise your hand?

1 comment:

mjamesrizza said...

Interesting post. Last night Obama was talking about some bridge program (which McCain supported) that will help people who can't wait several years for Health care reform. It sounds like a good idea. Yet I don't know how this will work or what it means. Any idea on this?

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