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http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/07/uninsured-making-diagnosis.html

Today's junkfoodscience post discusses how many people in the US are uninsured and argues that the number is lower than commonly reported. Furthermore, it argues that many of the people who are uninsured can afford to buy insurance but do not.
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 2005” issued on August 2006: Of the 46.6 million Americans they cited as uninsured in 2005, 17.04 million without health insurance live in households making more than $50,000 a year. That’s 37% of the uninsured in the U.S. Nearly 9 million of those make more than $75,000.

In fact, according to the Census Bureau, the biggest increases in uninsured by household incomes over the past decade has been among those making the most money.
The sentence below immediately follows the previous one, subtly giving the impression that the Census Bureau has made this determination of why the people involved are not insured. I'm not an expert on the Census Bureau but it seems pretty likely to me that this is Swarcz's own theory:
They are people who generally have access to and can afford insurance, but prefer to self-insure for whatever reason, perhaps to keep their healthcare decisions out of the hands of their employer or government.
I'm sure some of them are, but all? I don't think so. She uses the same trick later on (I've italicized the part that I believe is her theory and not a Census Bureau pronouncement):
According to the Census Bureau, more than 18 million of the uninsured are people between the ages of 18 and 34, for whom health insurance isn’t a priority and they’ve chosen, wisely or not, to spend their disposable income on other things.
I know some people who don't have health insurance even though they can afford and get it. And insofar as Swarcz is warning against too-invasive and too-restrictive government programs, I agree—I think there should be a guaranteed right to access health care, but I don't think people should be forced into accessing it in particular ways.

But I'm very disappointed that a blog which covers the systemic discrimination against fat people so carefully most of the time doesn't even mention the fact that many fat people in the United States are denied insurance even if they can afford it. Swarcz does mention existing government programs providing insurance to people who can't afford it. There are also some government programs for high-risk groups—I looked into the California one a few times when my insurance was about to go away and I was unable to find any insurance companies willing to sell me health insurance. The last I checked, the California program had a months-long waiting list and the lifetime payout maximum was too low to cover any really serious medical condition.

ETA: After I wrote this post, Swarcz added some text to her post addressing the issue of people who are denied coverage at any price.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
xf85goblin
Jul. 2nd, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
Oh well maybe George Q will get to it
I rustled through my bumroll and found next to my 12 reciepts for having voted in the year 2000, a vauge promise to work on healthcare. I am dead broke and therefore in a wierd way, I got health care. Mind you, it is wierd and don't feel every elective surgery desire would be catered to but I do have some.
BTW, if you ever want to feel icky about the value of a dollar do QUICKEN. at $75,000 you have hopes that your car isn't turning to rust and your brain isn't turning to soup from lack of amusement. The right to retire to anything better than "The Price is Right" in the day room and to have that tumor you and your sweetie(s) have always wanted requries a tad more.
innerdoggie
Jul. 2nd, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think private health insurance is a myth. Everybody I know who has tried to get it has been rejected.
jenk
Jul. 2nd, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC)
We got it, in Washington state no less. The trick is
  1. Get coverage through an employer.
  2. When leaving the employer, continue coverage through COBRA.
  3. Apply before your COBRA coverage runs out.
We did it all through the mail - no weights were asked, and certainly no physicals.
firecat
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
I have an individual plan that I got sorta-kinda this way - I didn't have coverage through an employer but through a professional association. People who'd been in the professional organization less than some number of months when they were forced to cancel their insurance coverage were SOL, though.

This doesn't really count as private underwritten health insurance though. The companies only offer it because they are required to by law. The time before this one, when I lost coverage (my COBRA period ran out), the only individual option available cost $10,000 a month, no that's not a typo. (It wasn't underwritten either, it was offered by law, but at that point the law had not specified that the plan had to be offered at a reasonable price.) I got lucky with the professional organization at that time. The professional organization was also able to offer health insurance only by law, a CA law that required insurers to offer plans to non-profit organizations who met a certain set of criteria.
mjlayman
Jul. 2nd, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yes, me too, in Virginia. It really helped because I'm no longer insurable because I'm seriously chronically ill. I got Medicare, too, so I have the HMO's Medicare plan.

(Crap, Bush just commuted Libby's jail sentence.)
innerdoggie
Jul. 3rd, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU!

I worry if I get laid off from my job, that I'll (actually we'll) be only good for the 18 months of COBRA, and then kablooey unless one or the other of us finds a job with health benefits.
jenk
Jul. 3rd, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
I found my state insurance commissioner's website very helpful, complete with links to the companies that were legally setup to offer individual coverage in this state.

The scary part at first was how they kept pointing to their "risk test", which determines who goes into the state's "high-risk" pool, blah blah blah, blah blah blah, oh if you already have coverage you don't have to bother with the test.
firecat
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
I know people who got it, but not many.
wild_irises
Jul. 2nd, 2007 07:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, right. You're on target and she's full of junk, and should stick to science. Maybe I'll blog about it tonight ...

Thanks for the pointer.
elainegrey
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
The report http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p60-231.pdf


p 23

Most people (59.5 percent) were covered
by a health insurance plan related
to employment for some or all of
2005, a smaller proportion than in the
previous year (59.8 percent). As the
largest component of private health
insurance coverage, this decline in
employment-based coverage
essentially explains the decrease in
total private health insurance coverage,
from 68.2 percent in 2004 to
67.7 percent in 2005 (Figure 6).
elainegrey
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:23 pm (UTC)
18 and 34 -- possibly paying for college and going to school? supporting a dependent? working several jobs to make ends meet which, in the past, may have come with health insurance and now don't?

Grrr, i wonder if this is in some response to Sicko opening this weekend. In a quick montage of folks not able to get insurance there was a "too skinny" young man and a "too fat" young woman.
firecat
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
Swarcz has been blogging against US national health care for some time, but she seems to have stepped it up lately.
starcat_jewel
Jul. 2nd, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
You don't even have to be fat. I have a friend who's a lawyer, married to another lawyer. No problem affording health insurance, right? Guess again. She has chronic hormonal imbalances and can't carry a child to term. No health plan will cover her, even as her husband's dependent. Yeah, this is "choosing to spend her disposable income on other priorities."
(Anonymous)
Jul. 2nd, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Please don't misinterpret what I was trying to write. You should know by now, given my body of work, that I know fat people very much ARE being denied AFFORDABLE health insurance and this does not negate that problem at all.This article is not looking the problems with the insurance industry, of which I could cite chapter and verse far more than most, but simply with the statistics being given by the government about the numbers of Americans without insurance, in their efforts to create a crisis and make it mandatory for everyone to purchase health insurance. This piece was simply to help get a picture of who are the uninsured in the U.S. and if there really are 43 million who are suffering from lack of access to care as many want us to fear. It was to bring down the level of hysteric rhetoric and start to try to get a better handle on what problems we need to fix. Sandy
firecat
Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:07 am (UTC)
Hi Sandy,

Thanks for responding.

I think I am not so much misinterpreting what you wrote so much as disagreeing with some of the choices you made in writing it - both what you added and what you left out.

If you only intended to present statistics, why did you add theories about what the statistics mean that may or may not be true? And why did you not clearly state those were your theories?

One of the problems with health care in the US, and one that is driving the current push toward legislated universal health care, is that many people, fat or otherwise, cannot buy ANY health insurance, affordable or otherwise. But your article came across as implying that most people simply choose not to buy it.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
"But your article came across as implying that most people simply choose not to buy it." I was simply giving the statistical breakdowns from the actual Census Bureau statistics that have not been reported in the news.

The fact, for instance, that 33% of uninsured could be getting free care because they are eligible for available programs and aren't signed up is a travesty of these programs and their failure to do adequate outreach. But we never even hear about problems like this, so they'll continue to never get fixed and get worse. I hope readers noticed that this problem alone has gotten worse over the past ten years, not better.

I continue to write about problems with insurance and discriminatory care for those who are aging, fat, minority and poor. I hate the politics but sadly, politics and medicine are too intertwined to ignore anymore because too many people are getting hurt by misinformation and lack of information, and the corruption behind all of these agendas.

It's disheartening that the fat community lashes out rather than get behind those trying to help.
firecat
Jul. 3rd, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
I was simply giving the statistical breakdowns from the actual Census Bureau statistics that have not been reported in the news.

Yes, you did give that information. But you also added added theories about the statistics, like "but prefer to self-insure for whatever reason, perhaps to keep their healthcare decisions out of the hands of their employer or government" and "people between the ages of 18 and 34, for whom health insurance isn’t a priority".

It's disheartening that the fat community lashes out rather than get behind those trying to help.

It's disheartening that you label the criticism of a single fat person of a single post in your blog as "the fat community lashes out."
(Anonymous)
Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Could I add something here? It is important to realize what/who is behind all of these efforts to create the sense of panic about uninsured costing society. They are not concerned about fat, disabled, poor, old or minority people. [I just added a link at the bottom of the article, because it appears a lot of people didn't read that post where I tried to explain some of this.] They are doing this strictly with profit in mind. The insurance companies want to make it a law everyone has to get insurance (while not wanting to cover anyone who might actually USE it -- they want those people all moved to public-funded programs) because the insurers want all of the premiums of those young people (18-24 age especially) who are primarily healthy and have very low expenses for the insurers. They are the largest group of uninsured in actual numbers and the companies see dollar signs. I know this must sound horrible, but that's one aspect of what this is about. The other is that none of these insurance plans are actually insurance as much as managed care to force people into weight loss programs, interventions and compulsory medications. Sandy
firecat
Jul. 3rd, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
Thanks for adding the link. I think it's a helpful improvement.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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