Tuesday, September 13, 2011

37% of the Uninsured Live in Households Making $50k or More, and 40% Are Between 18-34 Years

The Census Bureau released its annual study today on "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010," and reported that there were 49.90 million uninsured Americans in 2010, up from 48.98 million in 2000.

The chart above shows the household income levels of those 49.9 million uninsured Americans. There were 9.4 million uninsured Americans living in households making $75,000 per year or more, and this group represents almost 1 out of every 5 uninsured (19% of the total number of uninsured). There were 8.8 million Americans without health insurance in households making between $50,000 and $75,000, representing 17.7% of the uninsured. For those two groups combined, almost 37% of Americans without health insurance (18.2 million people) were living in households with $50,000 or more of household income in 2010 (see Table 8 in the Census report for these data).

Q: With $50,000 or more in household income, wouldn't many or most of those 18 million Americans be without insurance voluntarily? That is, couldn't many of those households afford health insurance? Alternatively, with those income levels (especially the 9.4 million with household income above $75,000), couldn't many of those households choose to forgo health insurance in favor of being "self-insured," at least for routine health procedures? Given the widespread availability of more than a thousand convenient and affordable retail health clinics around the country at Wal-Marts, Targets, Meijers, CVSs and Walgreens, these households could easily be on the "pay-as-you-go" model of self-insurance for health care, at least for routine medical services.

It's also the case that about 4 out of 10 uninsured Americans (39.8%) in 2010 were between the ages of 18 and 34 years, and the young people in that age group may also voluntarily choose not to be insured, and be "self-insured," because they are young and healthy and elect not to spend money on health insurance.  

As Thomas Sowell wrote in August 2009 when Obamacare was being rushed through Congress before the August recess:

"As for those uninsured Americans who are supposedly the reason for all this sound and fury [Obamacare], there is remarkably little interest in why they are uninsured, despite the incessant repetition of the fact that they are. The endless repetition serves a political purpose but digging into the underlying facts might undermine that purpose. Many find it sufficient to say that the uninsured cannot "afford" medical insurance. But what you can afford depends not only on how much money you have but also on what your priorities are. 

Many people who are uninsured have incomes from which medical insurance premiums could readily be paid without any undue strain (see chart above). Many young people, especially, don't buy medical insurance and elderly people already have Medicare. The poor have Medicaid available, even though many do not bother to sign up for it, until they are already in the hospital-- which they can do then.

Throwing numbers around about how many people are uninsured may create the impression that the uninsured cannot get medical treatment, when it fact they can get medical treatment at any hospital emergency room."

MP: We've now got Obamacare coming soon, and everybody will be forced to buy a federally approved insurance policy whether they want one or not, even those who can currently afford insurance but choose not to, and the young 18-34 year-olds who also currently elect not to buy insurance. We might have another very expensive government solution to what might have been very much of a non-problem.   

37 Comments:

At 9/13/2011 3:05 PM, Blogger Broll The American said...

Self-insured is convenient when healthy, but health is an unpredictable thing. Your ability to work and life savings can evaporate in an instant with an accident or diagnosis. Its really not the prudent or long term practical thing to do. Once the doctors bleed you dry you end up on Medicaid. Its easy to be self-insured / reckless when eventually the government will back you up at the end of the day, but not the socially responsible thing to do.

 
At 9/13/2011 3:12 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Maybe before we get someone carried off on socialist crying jag this posting at the Heritage Foundation might be worth a look...

Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America's Poor

By Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield
September 13, 2011

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau as taken from various government reports:

80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

92 percent of poor households have a microwave.

Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.

Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.

Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR.

Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.

More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

43 percent have Internet access.

One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.

One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo.

 
At 9/13/2011 3:33 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

all insurance is suspect
how many people work in insurance?
what is the vig? or vigorish?
what is really wrong with being self-insured?
insurance is an enormous expense and perhaps is not really needed
and what about insurance fraud?
I pay my premiums providing a livelihood to a salesman and a fleet of others and then they pay money out to crooks who game the system in one way or another
better to be self insured

 
At 9/13/2011 3:33 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9/13/2011 3:40 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

That is, couldn't many of those households afford health insurance?

==============================

Assuming it is available to them, probably not.

I make more than that, and I could not buy health insurance at any price. At least not until the no prexisting conditions rules kick in.

But it isn't clear that policies that will cover those with chronic conditions will be anywhere near affordable. They may be available, but only at astronomical prices.



If you are healthy at present, you might think it is OK to be self insured, but I have a couple of friends who will tell you how utterly stupid that idea is.

 
At 9/13/2011 3:50 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Juandos: I don't see the relevance.
How much insurance do you think the poor can buy for the price of a gameboy?

The poor in America would be rich in many other countries. So what? Do you think we should only help the really poor? How poor would tht be in your book? Shgould we only help the American poor? Or give them no help at all?

Would your proposed minimum level of help include healthcare, or merely subsistence.

 
At 9/13/2011 3:51 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

all insurance is suspect

==========================

I'll say. It is the only product I buy and then have to sue to get.

That what causes cumbersome regulation.

 
At 9/13/2011 4:08 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

If you are 55 or older, and considering health insurance...good luck.

 
At 9/13/2011 4:24 PM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

According to these numbers and the official census numbers...

In 2000, 17.4% of the population was uninsured.

In 2010, 16.2% of the population was uninsured.

So on a percentage basis, the number of uninsured was falling when Obama came riding in on the white horse of government.

 
At 9/13/2011 4:31 PM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

Benjamin,

If you're 55 and need health insurance, you can get it. There are insurance stores here in PA that sell individual policies. Not cheap, but affordable.

 
At 9/13/2011 4:55 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

the question in the CNN Tea Party debates was that a 30-year did not buy insurance and then subsequently needed 6-months in a hospital and who should pay for it.

It was hilarious listening to the answers ... even Ron Paul was flummoxed.. and someone from the audience shouted - "let him die".

yes indeed....

 
At 9/13/2011 4:55 PM, Blogger MovingEast said...

I see two problems with self-insuring when you want to

1. If you have a bad accident you either face huge costs, or expect someone to bail you out (ie go to an emergency room and get treatment without coverage). That is asking the rest of the country to subsidize you.

2. If all the healthy sorts don't get insurance, then the risk pool becomes worse and premiums go up, driving out more people due to price.

It is a difficult problem - the Aussies had an interesting approach of some required contributions through your taxes, but you can choose not to get private coverage. Rates are flat across the pool of people seeking insurance. however, the older you are when you first join the plan, the higher your premium.

It's a tough problem.
Certainly the employer-based system we have at the moment is a poor solution.

 
At 9/13/2011 6:25 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

In CA you will pay about $300 monthly, $5k deductible, and maybe 30 percent co-pay on any bills if you are male age 56.

It's affordable if you don't get sick.

 
At 9/13/2011 6:40 PM, Blogger Tamerlane said...

I live in California and Benjamin's quote is not something I've encountered. 30% co-pay?

Having a life threatening illness or a bad accident is always a disaster people.

What kind of school of logic thinks it is plausible to create a system that invests so many assets that is creates a scenario where life threatening illnesses and bad accidents do not cause enormous financial stress.

This type of system itself would be fiscally unsustainable for the entire society instead of just those affected by the illness or accident.

Not much of thought from any of the replies that the cost of medical is the problem, not the cost of insurance.

Insurance is one of the causes of higher insurance costs because individuals who consume the commodity, health care, do not pay the price for the care.

 
At 9/13/2011 6:41 PM, Blogger Tamerlane said...

Mea Culpa,

Insurance is one of the causes of higher medical costs.

 
At 9/13/2011 7:46 PM, Blogger Mike said...

The graph doesn't really tell us that much. If you live in a 50k household with 6 people, good luck affording insurance. If you're a single guy making 50k and live alone, you should have it...but those two are in the same category.
As we all know, individual income can go up while household income drops.

One of the more interesting things I saw in the study was that the uninsured rate hasn't changed much since 1987 (just over 13% in '87, just over 16% now - figure 7)....I thought this was all about the current insanity of the 21st century health care cost explosion....and, in this employer-based system, consider that the unemployment rate was 6.2 in '87....

 
At 9/13/2011 9:16 PM, Blogger arbitrage789 said...

All about wealth redistribution.

Obamacare was just a convenient vehicle.

 
At 9/14/2011 12:28 AM, Blogger Don Culo said...

The american family with four kids with an income of $50,000.00 (before taxes) can easily aford a $1,000.00 a month premium for insurance.

What the hell is wrong with those wealthy americans who aren't purchasing insurance.

 
At 9/14/2011 12:33 AM, Blogger Don Culo said...

In CA you will pay about $300 monthly, $5k deductible, and maybe 30 percent co-pay on any bills if you are male age 56.

It's affordable if you don't get sick.


*******************

I am single, 55, healthy and pay $460.00a month with a $5,000.00 deductible in California. (Anthem Blue Cross)

I paid $300.00 a month about 15 years ago.

 
At 9/14/2011 5:27 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Juandos: I don't see the relevance.
How much insurance do you think the poor can buy for the price of a gameboy?
"...

Sure you see the relevance hydra though you purposefully decided not to...

The problem is that if had you actually read the whole thing you'd have realized that the cost of the aggregate of items listed sure could've gone towards health insurance payments or an HSA instead...

Yet the choices being made by these alledged poor seemingly prevent them from getting a handle on their own health insurance purchases...

 
At 9/14/2011 5:34 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"I am single, 55, healthy and pay $460.00a month with a $5,000.00 deductible in California. (Anthem Blue Cross)"...

Gee! I wonder if something keeps driving up the cost of health insurance in California?

According to the California Hospital Association (CHA), illegal aliens cost hospitals across the state about $1.25 billion a year in unpaid medical care...

 
At 9/14/2011 5:47 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

"U.S. poverty rate hits highest rate since 1993; 1 in 6 are now poor"

" Last year, 46.2 million Americans lived below the poverty line — $22,314 a year for a family of four "

how many of these can afford insurance?

 
At 9/14/2011 6:01 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"how many of these can afford insurance?"...

Well larry g, if you lefties did you're homework you'd realize many of them might be able to...

The poor in this country as I noted with the Heritage Foundation link aren't exactly poor in the normal sence of the word...

It seems these alledged poor are good at making poor choices with their money...

 
At 9/14/2011 6:14 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

you can afford health insurance for a family of 4 on $22,000 a year?

that's not a "lefty" concept .... it's a simple question...

what would basic health insurance for a family of 4 cost?

and - if they don't have insurance, how do they get care?

Answer = EMTALA and MedicAid.

so we don't turn them away... we pay for their health care anyhow,

right?

got a solution?

 
At 9/14/2011 11:59 AM, Blogger Mike said...

"got a solution?"

I've got a super-easy solution. Don't have a family of 4 if you only make $22,000.

If you're an adult making around $11 per hour, I'd guess your only real skill is reproduction.

 
At 9/14/2011 12:11 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I've got a super-easy solution. Don't have a family of 4 if you only make $22,000.

well the 22K is for a family of four.

the income threshold for 2 or 1 is even lower...about 11K I believe.

can they afford health care on an income of 11K a year?

bonus question - do they ACTUALLY RECEIVE health care at that income level?

Yup.. they do.. and it's twice as expensive as typical - and you get to pay for it...

got a solution?

 
At 9/14/2011 12:11 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I've got a super-easy solution. Don't have a family of 4 if you only make $22,000.

well the 22K is for a family of four.

the income threshold for 2 or 1 is even lower...about 11K I believe.

can they afford health care on an income of 11K a year?

bonus question - do they ACTUALLY RECEIVE health care at that income level?

Yup.. they do.. and it's twice as expensive as typical - and you get to pay for it...

got a solution?

 
At 9/14/2011 1:05 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Of course I have a solution, a couple of them...but you won't like either.

Do I want these people do die in the streets, no, probably not. But I don't think that those who don't pull their weight should get the same treatment I get.
Admittedly, I formed this opinion while my appendix was bursting and I had to wait behind 5 people in the e.r. with no insurance and no discernable ailment....I say no ailment because, as I was doubled over on the floor, all I could hear was them talking amongst each other about how often they come to the e.r. and laughing their asses off. If I had the ability to stand at the time, I probably would have killed them.

 
At 9/14/2011 2:39 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: in the ER...

so people without insurance ..can adversely affect those who do have insurance?

we don't have ERs with two waiting rooms.. one that says "those with insurance only" and the other one says " Assorted leeches and other parasites - average wait time = 5hrs...)

:-)

 
At 9/14/2011 2:52 PM, Blogger Mike said...

That's exactly my point. Perhaps we should have 2 waiting rooms.
This is one of the only systems with almost no incentive other than personal responsibility and, possibly, credit rating (which is semi-redundant).

I went without insurance when I was young and poor and I knew the risks were few.

 
At 9/14/2011 3:02 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" I went without insurance when I was young and poor and I knew the risks were few"

well you had to pay into Medicare part A - right?

would you have paid into a retirement health plan if it was not a mandatory payroll tax?

if people don't save for their health care in retirement what should be done with them?

charity wards?

 
At 9/14/2011 3:40 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"well you had to pay into Medicare part A - right?"

Sure did.

"would you have paid into a retirement health plan if it was not a mandatory payroll tax?"

Not at that time, I preferred eating...Not that it mattered, but the payroll deduction from my 12,000k/year would have been better spent on my pantry.

"charity wards?"

yep.

 
At 9/14/2011 3:46 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I'm not opposed to them nor community-base clinics.

used to be... way back when...
you have 3 choices in the hospitals - single, double and ward...

you got the same care but less privacy....

it's the same care that our military and retired military get so it's not like they'd be discriminated against, eh?

 
At 9/14/2011 4:16 PM, Blogger Mike said...

You have the same choices now. I've been in all three within the last 5 years. I actually thought the ward was nicer than the double.

 
At 9/14/2011 6:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Answer = EMTALA and MedicAid.

so we don't turn them away... we pay for their health care anyhow,

right?

got a solution?
"...

Why yes I do larry g, get rid of ETMALA and Medicaid...

Let those supposed compassionate types who think its important for everyone to have health care put their own money where the mouths are...

 
At 9/14/2011 6:20 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"we don't have ERs with two waiting rooms.. one that says "those with insurance only" and the other one says " Assorted leeches and other parasites - average wait time = 5hrs"...

Hmmm, larry g you just might be onto something with that idea...

It might just be the incentive needed for some folks to start taking responsibility for their own lives...

 
At 9/14/2011 7:31 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I'd support a referendum on EMTALA and MedicAid...

let it rip....

 

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