POLICY: Uninsurance–It’s 45 million now

It’s taken a long while but the Census bureau yesterday confirmed that in 2003 45 million Americans lacked health insurance. Of course that’s actually a wrong number, it’s a snapshot which actually means that 45 million lacked health insurance at any one time. Some 25 million are uninsured more or less permanently and some 70-75m go through some period of uninsurance in each year. Last year a study showed that 84m are uninsured for a period of 3 months or more in a 4 year period.

This is a real problem and the US Chamber of Commerce has the gall to say that there are real market based solutions to cure this:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the solution to the health insurance problem already is in the pipeline: “Today’s news that the number of uninsured Americans totaled 45 million in 2003 is a tragedy in that real solutions already exist,” said Kate Sullivan Hare, the Chamber’s executive director of health policy, in a press release.“More can — and should be — done to make health coverage affordable for employers and workers,” Sullivan Hare said. The Chamber said the best way to make health coverage more available and affordable is to allow pooled-purchasing for small businesses – what President Bush recommends — along with “equitable tax treatment” for individuals who purchase their own health coverage; and tax credits targeted to people with modest incomes. The Chamber said it opposes efforts to add new mandates and expand employers’ liability for the health coverage they voluntarily provide to their workforce.

I’m not sure this needs to be dignified with a response, but let me just say that there is no such thing as voluntary universal insurance.

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