2006 April 27 Thursday
Rate Of Medical Uninsurance Rises

Medical insurance is out of reach for a growing portion of the population of the United States.

  • Two of five (41%) working-age Americans with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 a year were uninsured for at least part of the past year—a dramatic and rapid increase from 2001 when just over one-quarter (28%) of those with moderate incomes were uninsured (Figure ES-1).
  • Adults with incomes under $20,000 were still the most likely to be uninsured: more than half (53%) had spent time uninsured in the past year.
  • Most people who are uninsured are in working families. Of the estimated 48 million American adults who had any time uninsured in the past year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person was working full time.

The web page has a chart showing increases in the rate of medical uninsurance from 2001 to 2005 in all 4 income categories studied. For the low income group lack of insurance at the time of polling went from 33% to 37%. For moderate income lack of medical insurance went from 17% to 28%. For middle income people it went from 6% to 9%. The highest income didn't have a reduction of medical insurance at the time of polling but they did have an increase in the percentage of upper income people saying that at some point in the previous year they had no medical insurance.

Overall at the time of polling the percent without health insurance went from 15% in 2001 to 18% in 2005. The percent who said they went without health insurance at some point in the previous year went from 24% to 28%.

The worsening of this problem feeds on itself. As more people go uninsured hospitals and other providers increase prices for paying customers to make up for money lost on non-paying customers. That, in turn, drives up insurance costs and therefore prices medical insurance out of the range of even more people. Hispanics are medically uninsured at two and a half times the rate of whites. Since Hispanics are the most rapidly growing ethnic group in America they are driving up the rate of medical uninsurance and therefore they are driving up both medical insurance prices and government subsidies for medical services.

What to do about this problem? Deportation of all the illegal aliens would help lower the rate of medical uninsurance by removing uninsured people and also by driving up wages for lower class folks who can not now afford medical insurance. More restrictive legal immigration that let in only people who will earn enough to be net taxpayers (i.e. they pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits) would also help. A shift toward health savings accounts would introduce more market pressure by causing more medical expenses to be paid for out-of-pocket. Also, increased funding to accelerate biomedical research will speed the development of much cheaper ways to cure and prevent diseases.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 27 10:32 PM  Economics Health


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