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POLICY: Another view on the uninsured numbers tells the same story

FamiliesUSA, a pressure group that was deeply connected to the Clinton health plan back in the 1992-4 period, has produced a new report about the uninsurance numbers. Their analysis of the CPS data shows that over the course of a full year some 82 million Americans were uninsured at some point. Here’s the full report.

Last year when the CPS report came out, I had a conversation with Ross at the (now sadly mostly silent) Bloviator in which we teased out the real numbers. And these are pretty consistent. The numbers are roughly 7%, 15% and 30%. That means that, of the non-elderly 7% are uninsured for more than a year (and probably permanently), 15% are uninsured at any one time, while 30% are uninsured for some period during the year. The oft-quoted 43 million number is the 15% number, which is a snapshot. The Commonwealth Fund study showed something around 32 million Americans were uninsured for over one year in a four year period, while another 52 odd-million Americans are going in and out of uninsurance. That is the movie, and that’s where too many of us are living.

The problem for those that want to do something about this is that there is little political will to do anything about this. Despite what Bush said on the campaign trail nothing is happening on the right wing of the aisle, and the Democrats are only going to move on this in response to either a demand from a middle class that is worried about losing insurance (the political factor that drove the Clinton reform movement) or from its core constituency in the minority communities who are concerned about the very high rates of uninsurance in those populations. Thus far, we haven’t heard much from the traditional leaders of the Hispanic or African-American communities about this issue, and that seems to be the case for the long term.

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