On Monday, in his post on a public, Medicare-like health care plan for the nonelderly, Uwe Reinhardt touched on a subject he’s discussed before: the idea that, because many Americans are uninsured, the current American health care system has its own form of rationing (though many people often bristle at using that term for it). If this topic interests you, you may want to check out Ezra Klein’s op-ed article in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times. It doesn’t use the word rationing by name, but it talks about the trade-offs in granting more or fewer people access to care. Excerpt: Long lines come up frequently in the American healthcare discussion, the symbol of all that is to be feared about a government-run system. And it’s true that in Canada and Britain, the two countries most often cited in discussions of what nationalized healthcare might mean, some patients report having to wait months for some elective treatments …[S]mugness about[Americans'] speedy access to care seems a bit peculiar. If someone can’t afford care, we record their waiting time as zero. You don’t wait for what you can’t have. But a more accurate accounting would record that wait as infinite, or it would record when the patient eventually ends up in the emergency room because the original ailment went untreated. Research like this raises a simple question: Would you rather wait four months for a surgery or be unable to get it altogether?
Families USA: Nearly One third of us Lacked Health Insurance coverage.
Ohio: Nearly one-third of Ohioans under age 65 went without health insurance sometime during the past two years. Approximately 29 percent, or 2.9 million, Ohio residents were uninsured during the time frame, according to Families USA, a nonprofit group that advocates for affordable health care. The report said 33 percent of Americans had no insurance in the past two years. Of those uninsured in Ohio, nearly 76 percent were working families, and nearly 20 percent were families above twice the poverty line — $42,400 of annual income for a family of four in 2008.
Michigan: About 2.5 million Michiganders— almost three of every 10 people under the age of 65 — were uninsured sometime in 2007 or 2008. Nearly 12% of Michiganders had no coverage health insurance throughout 2007. But the number of Michiganders lacking health insurance soars to 28.8% of the state’s population when people who went without coverage for portions of a year are counted along with those who didn’t have insurance the entire year. Some 70.4% of Michigan’s uninsured went without coverage for six months or more. 76% of Michigan’s uninsured are members of working families.
New Jersey residents are having a hard time paying for health care insurance.
A Families USA report released Tuesday says 32 percent under age 65 were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. That compares with 33 percent at the national level, 31 percent in New York and 27 percent in Pennsylvania.
North Carolina: More than one-third of all North Carolina residents under age 65 were uninsured at some point during 2007 or 2008, 2.8 million North Carolinians lacked health insurance at some point during the past two years. Of those, 2.1 million didn’t have health insurance for six months or more. “The huge number of people without health coverage in North Carolina is worse than an epidemic,” Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director, said in a statement.
Oklahoma: More than one in three Oklahomans younger than 65 lacked health insurance at some point during 2007 and 2008, Families USA said that nationally, 86.7 million people younger than 65 — or 33 percent — lacked insurance some time during the two-year period. Four in five of those individuals were in working families.
Wyoming: Almost one-third of Wyoming residents lacked health insurance at some point during the past two years.
And finally, this understated editorial comment and conclusion from the NY Times:
Already one of the most contentious issues is whether to include a new public plan option to compete with private insurance plans. Many Republicans deride it as “government-run health care” and a step toward “socialized medicine.” Democrats find the notion appealing — even of vital importance.
No matter how fair the competition between public and private plans might be at the start, (Republicans) warn that the government would find it irresistible to rig the outcome through its regulatory and pricing powers and its ability, in a pinch, to subsidize the public plan with taxpayers’ money. If, over time, a vast majority decides the government plan is superior, so be it.