Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Manipulating Statistics and Other Peeves

Have you heard the figure being tossed about that there are 50 million uninsured people in America?

The idea that our government wants to nationalize the healthcare industry angers me on so many fronts. I don't even know where to begin. Let me try to be clear. In my frustration that may not be an easy task.

First, national healthcare does not work.
  • Ask all the doctors who have come to America from Canada or England to practice medicine because they were no longer allowed to practice medicine according to their own standards of good care.
  • Ask all the patients in those and other countries who have to wait years for treatment. Or who are denied treatment because it is deemed too costly.
  • Ask those who come to America at great personal expense because here they can get the treatments they need.
  • Or consider the State of Oregon whose state run medical program has not payed for treatments that are not on their "approved list" but will foot the bill for physician assisted suicide. Read more about these cases here and here and here. Asounding.
Second, the federal government has a very poor track record on the various things they try to control and manage for us. Think social security. I heard segments of a speech President Obama made recently in which he used the term "unsustainable" to refer to the rising cost of healthcare. What is unsustainable is the idea that the government can continue to take over large segments of the American economy. Last fall it was the banks, now the automobile industry, soon healthcare.

Where does it end? And who is going to pay for it? Obviously the tax payers.

And guess what. The pool of people otherwise known as the American tax payer is getting smaller and smaller. With the new tax policies going into effect, more voting Americans than not will pay no national income tax. Do I mean that I wish for more taxes? Not at all. But think about the implications. Those who don't pay any income tax often receive that great big annual bonus known as the Earned Income Credit. I know because we fall into this category. What this means is that each April or May, I get a big chunk of money from the federal government that came out of someone else's pocket. (Do I send it back? I guess I am not that noble. But I do experience pangs of conscience.)

What I am getting at is that for the first time in American history, more people will be receiving for free all the variety of government services available. Be it the traditional welfare type programs such as food stamps, WIC, housing assistance; government financial gifts such as tuition grants or the Earned Income Credit; or the many services our government offers or helps offer to all citizens such as protection from enemies, education and infrastructure. Who is going to be left to vote against such continued federal government growth if everyone is on the dole? Pity the poor souls, again the ever decreasing number of them, who pay for all this.

The third reason I get irate thinking about the healthcare industry is that those discussing these policy changes manipulate the numbers in order to secure more support for their programs. I hate being a statistic used by someone to support something I don't believe in. My family has in recent years been uninsured for short periods of time. We did this by choice. We chose not to purchase health insurance. I'll save that logic for another post. But when I hear politicians claiming that they need to step in because people are uninsured, I get my hackles up.

From Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny
In 2006, the Census Bureau reported that there were 46.6 million people without health insurance. About 9.5 million were not American citizens. Another 17 million lived in households with incomes exceeding $50,000 a year and could, presumably, purchase their own health care coverage. Eighteen million of the 46.6 million were between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four, most of whom were in good health and not necessarily in need of health-care coverage or chose not to purchase it. Moreover, only 30 percent of the nonelderly population who became uninsured in a given year remained uninsured for more than twelve months. Almost 50 percent regained their health coverage within four months. The 47 million "uninsured" figure used by Pelosi and others is widely inaccurate.
(In his book, Mr. Levin includes references for the above statistics. Also, to hear him speak on this subject, check out yesterday's Mark Levin Show.)

So when you hear the figure 50 million uninsured Americans, be skeptical. Be very skeptical.

There is a final reason why I don't like the discussions surrounding the healthcare crisis in America. Never are the two reasons that seem to me most obvious given adequate hearing: the soaring costs physicians have to pay for malpractice insurance and the great quality of medical care to which we Americans have become accustomed.

This may sound harsh, but when we are ready to stop suing our medical practitioners, when we are ready to stop going to the doctor for every little thing, when we are ready to die instead of using the wide variety of expensive cures that are available, we can complain about the high costs.


J. Jacobsen said...

Yes (ah feel your pain), but...

My guess is that the president is smart enough to know that the continuing government takeover is financially unsustainable. To him, that's inconsequential. Staggering, eh? But he has higher goals in mind, like Weston and Devine from the C.S. Lewis space trilogy. His higher goals justify (for him anyway) the discomfort we experience in the interim, even when that discomfort includes the whole nation, and may last for a long, long time. I think history has shown similar prioritization from time to time. Robespierre comes to mind, and Lenin.

Buckle up.

theMom said...


I have never read Lewis' space trilogy. But I got a chuckle out of your allusion to Robespierre and Lenin.

I keep thinking of Rubashov in Koestler's Darkness at Noon . That's one of my favorite books. I've read it about six times. But I don't think I'd have the heart to read it these days. I can't help thinking that one of these days many are going to wake up in Rubashov's position.