Immigrants Dire Effects on Health Insurance Statistics

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Something I can wholeheartedly and without shame blame immigrants for, according to this fascinating post from Reason contributor Megan McArdle: tedious complaining about declining or dangerously low percentages of Americans with health insurance:

Since 1987–the earliest year for which I could quickly lay my hands on census data–the number of uninsured Americans has skyrocketed from 12.9% to 15.9%. If we look only at native-born Americans, the numbers have been essentially unchanged since 1993 (again, the earliest census figures I could find). In 1993, 86.3% of native-born Americans had health insurance; in 2005 that figure was 86.6%. All of the increase in uninsured has come from immigrants . . . and I don't think they'd be better off getting their health care back in Guatamala.

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  1. In 1992, lack of health insurance was a serious enough problem to be among the leading issues in the campaigns for president and Congress. Even the GHW Bush rolled out his own universal health care bill.

    Since then, the cost of health care has skyrocketed, the population has gotten older, and the % of people covered hasn’t budged.

    Oh, I’m sorry, am I being tedious? What kind of plan are your kids on, Doherty?

  2. The % of uninsured is still really low ( some people choose not to have insurance. For some it’s a waste of money- like having full coverage auto insurance on a $500 car..one that aso covers oil changes) and the Real access to “healthcare” is high, pretty much universal. 12% or 15-16%- either one seems like there is no shortage of health insurance.

  3. Leading campaign issue = proof of a serious problem? Gotcha!

  4. An increase of 3% now qualifies as a “skyrocket”?

    Hyperbole is the language of the lazy.
    That and sarcasm, Joe.

  5. If we look only at native-born Americans, the numbers have been essentially unchanged since 1993 (again, the earliest census figures I could find). In 1993, 86.3% of native-born Americans had health insurance; in 2005 that figure was 86.6%. All of the increase in uninsured has come from immigrants . . . and I don’t think they’d be better off getting their health care back in Guatamala.

    In other words, if you take out the group that tends not to have health insurance, most people left have health insurance…so what’s the problem?

    In other news, except for the people who have cancer, nobody in America has cancer. Great progress!

  6. My thought exactly, Ed. A few years back 51% became “the vast majority” or “a people’s mandate.” It was only natural that any statistical creep in either direction be defined as “plummet” or “skyrocket.”

  7. Just so you know, in countries that have “Universal” health care, like Canada, illegal immigrants are not provided government health insurance. They don’t count illegal immigrants in their health care statistics, either.

    So adopting a Canadian style health care system in the U.S. would still leave most of the uninsured, uninsured.

  8. Rex, does the above passage — or Ms. McArdle’s piece — say anything at all about illegals? It’s unclear to me whether Broadway’s Original Annie was citing stats that included… well.. it’s not clear what they included except that the aggregate number at least includes naturalized citizens. Whether it also includes permanent residents, H1-Bs, illegals or any combination thereof, I don’t know. And quite possibly, neither does our Rand-infatuated friend.

    My algebra skills are rusty, but assuming it’s an aggregate that includes naturalized citizens and legal immigrants only, figuring that number as something like 10% of the population, it would mean a bit over double the rate of uninsuredness among this group that tends to be poorer (what with being statistically more likely to be young, raising kids, educationally below average at least in American terms, etc.) vs. native-born citizens. Adding illegals to the pool used to account for that whopping 2% gap between natives and the aggregate would actually mean a narrower gap between the immigrants and the native-born.

    As far as growing numbers of uninsured, the US population has grown and aged during the measured period. The elderly — even naturalized citizens who speak with funny accents! — can generally get government health insurance, so they’re barely in the stats at all even as many struggle to pay for their medication, food, shelter and end-of-life care. Given overall population growth and larger proportions of both the elderly and the very young in 2005 vs. the early 1990s, that means the pool of uninsured has grown numerically and the proportion of them for whom Medicare is not an option has grown, probably substantially.

    But as long as the aggregate figure doesn’t change, there’s nothing to complain about because people live in the aggregate.

    Funny how a proponent of a political philosophy supposedly based on individualism will hang policy arguments on the broadest, most meaningless aggregate metrics in order not to sound too much like a misanthrope.

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