In March Families USA released a report that said one out of three Americans under 65were without health insurance at some point during 2007 and 2008. The study, commissioned by the consumer health advocacy group Families USA, found 86.7 million Americans were uninsured at one point during the past two years.
Among the report's key findings:
• Nearly three out of four uninsured Americans were without health insurance for at least six months.
• Almost two-thirds were uninsured for nine months or more.
• Four out of five of the uninsured were in working families.
• People without health insurance are less likely to have a usual doctor and often go without screenings or preventative care.
One would wonder if the folks in DC really are trying to fix the problem or create a slew of new ones by attempting to bring everyone in the pool all at once. With the predictions from the Congressional Budgeting Office showing that the current plans are not likely to produce a reduction in government outlays in the long run, it might be a good time to retrench and develop a plan that helps those most at risk. To do this almost assuredly calls for a single-payer system to achieve affordable care.
The questions then become, what's that system and who pays for the average of 46 million people who are uninsured annually? Answers: "Medicare plus" and we all do. If every worker and employer paid into the system, like they do for social security and unemployment insurance, we could cover those who are the most at risk today. If we learn that the coverage is equal to or superior to the private sector, there is not a doubt in my mind that the demand would be there for a single-payer health care system for everyone who wanted to be in the pool.
The point is that it moves us in the right direction. Providing needed care to those who can ill afford any insurance is a moral imperative, if not an absolute right. If we can do this and do this well, the skeptics and opponents of universal health care will be forced to provide better reasons why the private sector is more credible or become truly competitive.