Thursday, May 29, 2003

Health care "crisis"?

A column on Reason Online notes the fallacy of the "health insurance crisis."
Who are the people uninsured for a year or more? It turns out that 60.5 percent are under the age of 35, and 80.2 percent are under 45. Furthermore, 86.1 percent of those uninsured for a year consider their health to be "good" to "excellent," and they are not wrong. Consider the risk of death faced by those under 35. In 2000 there were 134,419,000 Americans in this age bracket. Of the 2,404,598 Americans who died that year, 112,005 were under 35, or about 4.6 percent. Using death as a crude measure for serious health risk (can't get more serious than death), the under-35 uninsureds were risking one chance in 1,200 of dying from whatever causes in 2000. And while 60.5 percent seems like a high number, keep in mind that the rate of the uninsured among the population as a whole remained small—only 7.3 percent of those under 19 were uninsured for the whole year; the 19-24 bracket was at 14.4 percent; and the 25-34 group came in at 12.3 percent.

Another great point:
To the extent a crisis exists, it's because nobody in the health care "system," least of all patients, feels that they are in control of their health care arrangements. Patients feel insecure about losing their coverage first because it's tied to their jobs—either their employers will drop their benefits, or they'll lose their jobs outright. Second, while most patients say they are satisfied with their managed care plans, a significant proportion feel that such plans deprive them of control over their health care choices. Meanwhile, discouraged physicians are being turned into paper-pushers handling mass quantities of government and private health insurance paperwork, while being limited in the tests and drugs they can order for their patients. Physicians are also being squeezed by federal government restrictions on what they can charge their patients. This means that doctors typically lose money on Medicare and Medicaid patients, which forces them to raise prices on their privately insured patients to make a decent living.

We will never solve health care until we get the government out. The government has created this mess -- more government is by no means the answer.


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