July 2nd, 2007

dumbo octopus

Sometimes junkfoodscience gets kinda junky itself

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.