The New York Times editorial on Sunday (8.23.09) had more information than I was able to impart in my blog “Who Are the Uninsured?” last week, about one group within the nearly 46 million people in the U.S. without health insurance: the 13 million young adults aged 19-29. This information is important because speculation drives opponents of reform to postulate about this group, imaginings not based on fact. It is also important for those who are thoughtful but still undecided about health care and who want to learn more about the actual profile of those without health insurance.

Here’s what the Times reported: "These are not, for the most part, healthy young professionals making a sensible decision to pay their own minimal medical bills rather than buy insurance that they are unlikely to need. The Kaiser foundation estimates that only 10 percent are college graduates, and only 5 percent have incomes above $60,000 a year, while half have family incomes below $16,000 a year. Many of these younger people would be helped by reform bills that would provide subsidized coverage for the poor and an exchange where individuals can buy cheaper insurance than is now available.”

One last point: Even though the Times editorial calls it a sensible decision for a young health worker to forgo health insurance and to pay for care as needed, it is only sensible in one respect: that in general the risks are low, so the individual can save money. But the risks are never zero. Moreover, by mandating basic insurance coverage for all, the government ensures that the insurance pool will expand to benefit society at large. Then, if a young, strong person is injured or becomes ill and faces enormous bills, well beyond what he or she may have imagined, that individual benefits from the coverage as well as society at large.

Comments

Anonymous | 8/26/2009 - 1:41pm
There should be some connection between what the person earns and what he or she has to pay for medical care/insurance.  It is a real boon to the wealthy to be able to pay the same amount for their medical insurance as does the poorest subscriber.  The amount of wealth protected by that wealthy individual's health insurance policy is phenomenal while the premium charged for it is a mere pittance by comparision.  Unfortunately for the poor person, the premium is the phenomenal amount, and what is protected are the wallets of the hospitals and doctors who treat the poor person.
Anonymous | 8/26/2009 - 12:13pm
I think the first commenter is on to something regarding health care, the uninsured, and Catholic social teaching... if you happen upon some poor wretch laying in the gutter, is it Catholic social teaching that you step over him, go on to City Hall or the local GOP HQ and harangue the political or social elites for their greed for not taxing more of the rich to fund a bigger bureaucracy that in turn will spend pennies on the dollar to go around collecting up the homeless (sometimes)... or is it more in tune with the Gospel and the Church's social teaching for the individual to reach out immediately and personally to help a fellow citizen or fellow human being in trouble?
One sees this is spades in the divide between Left vs. Right wing Catholics. The Left is in favor of massive government solutions *(paid for by taxing the 'evil' rich) to "help the poor" and they believe this advocacy of policy is equivalent to their being personally generous towards "the poor". On the Right, the emphasis is on the private charitable care of the poor beginning with private education, private healthcare, private non-profits.... finding them private, not public jobs. One is not considered 'generous' on the Right by being "for" the proper public policies, but only to the degree he or she PERSONALLY does something to help real people.
One sees a host of religious and priests being "against" Capital punishment or some foreign war....but not doing anything personally to help the pregnant mom or witness outside some abortion clinic where real people are routinely killed without due process of law. One almost thinks that this disconnect is due to some theory by which moral goodness is a matter of having the correct political positions as opposed to having the correct moral actions. It costs nothing to be "against the war" but it does cost emotion, time, effort, and a bit of money to be there for some pregnant mom.
Join us where the "rubber meets the road" in saving women and their children and we'll join you in simply being "against" Capital punishment and foreign wars. See which moral universe results in more lives saved.
 
Anonymous | 8/25/2009 - 1:01pm
Is it too crass and bold to suggest that all the Catholic Religious who have taken a vow of poverty could give up their health insurance and offer it to those who have need of it. Perhaps if the religious ran around with missing teeth, wrong perscriptions eyeglasses, and painful joints that have gone untreated for years, they would then feel a bit more motivated to support the idea universal health care; and they might even find some aspirants who wish to join in their actual physical poverty.
Anonymous | 8/26/2009 - 4:37pm
If helping the Uninsured is the problem, why do we need 1,000 pages and $1 trillion over 10 years to come to their rescue? Could we not accomplish this noble end on their behalf buy giving them either tax incentives, tax credits, or out right government assistence to the tune of $30 b per year? No? Well then perhaps you ought to explain why the 'uninsured' are always used to promote a set of 2-3 bills, none finalized, that we're all supposed to uncriticalled accept as the perfect, ideal, unquestionable reform to end all reforms. What ELSE is in the bill? It seems pretty clear from the bills I have read that as more people lose jobs more people will be "uninsured" which means more will need government 'assistence' which means less will be on the 'you can keep what you have if you want to' plan.
Since we're all destined to end up sooner or later on this latter plan, why not take the time to go through it rather than just take on faith the initial rush to legislate before the summer recess? Unless there might be stuff in that bill we the people might not like. Like abortion. If it's not "in there" then why the vociferous votes against specific amendments that would have overtly taken abortion "out" of the bill? If "death panels" were never, ever, in the bill, then what did the Senate  take "out" of its version after Palin complained about it on Facebook?
In short, if you have nothing to hide, why act like you have everything to hide? People who are sure of themselves don't pooh-pooh those who disagree with ad hominem diatribes, questioning their motives for disagreement. They patiently show them where in the actual bills, quoting chapter and verse, there's nothing to worry about. Instead we get all those in favor just telling us to take it on faith. Would you take "on faith" this bill if it were written by the "right-wing"? I didn't think so.