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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Commonwealth Fund Says...

An agenda group has a new study saying that there's been a massive rise in the number of middle class uninsured.

From the Houston Chronicle:
The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage, a study released on Wednesday found.

Moreover, more than half of the uninsured adults said they were having problems paying their medical bills or had incurred debt to cover their expenses, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based private, health care policy foundation. The study of 4,350 adults also found that people without insurance were more likely to forgo recommended health screenings such as mammograms than those with coverage, and were less likely to have a regular doctor than their insured counterparts.

As we know, the vast majority of Americans consider themselves "middle class". It is a meaningless term and while the survey conducted obviously is specific for actual incomes the fact that the Commonwealth Fund's press release and the AP article would use that term is biased and bogus and used to elicit affect from the reader, since most Americans consider themselves such. They can sit there and think, "Well, I'm working or middle class as well..." but that could actually differ considerably from what the study says.

You have to take with a grain of salt any survey conducted by those with an agenda (the way questions are phrased influences the results SO much), and we can show as much with "evidence" from parties on the other end of the spectrum.

The fact that "working class" families have fallen more and more often into the realm of the uninsured might be alarming if not for information that implies that, if not in total numbers, then in percentages, the class entering the uninsured rolls the quickest (growing 114% from the early 90s to the early 2000s) were families making more than $75,000. I think we can agree that this is circumstantial evidence to the large number of those who choose to be uninsured.

What has not changed seriously over the years is the age breakdown of the uninsured, which lends, once again, considerable support to the argument that the uninsured population is largely those that choose not to seek it out.

Young adults (18-24) are less likely than other age groups to have health insurance, averaging 70.4 percent in 2002, compared with 82.0 percent of those 25 to 64 and 99.2 percent of those aged 65 and above. Indeed, according to the Census Bureau, 41 percent of the uninsured (17.9 million) are between the ages of 18 and 34. Good health is common in younger people, which may help explain why so many of them don’t obtain health insurance. They consider other uses of their money more valuable.

But really the point of this post isn't an impeachment of the Commonwealth Fund's survey, it should really be read more as a warning on using agenda driven non-profits as a source of information. You can no more trust the National Center for Policy Analysis' look at the "uninsured by choice" as you can the Commonwealth Fund's newly published survey on the plight of the uninsured. They are intended to sway you, there was never any doubt before the Commonwealth Fund's survey was undertaken that its results would be alarming.

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