Ramirez: Meet the Uninsured

posted at 5:15 pm on July 24, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

With all the talk of insuring the uninsured, which ObamaCare advocates count as 47 million people in America — roughly 15% of the population — IBD Editorials political cartoonist Michael Ramirez wants you to meet them:

For more information on this, AEI’s The American magazine has a good breakdown from last year about who exactly comprises the 47 million — a third of which are transitory in the uninsured category:

Q. Let’s get inside those rough numbers. Who tends to be uninsured?

A. They tend to be younger, with those most likely to be uninsured between ages 19 and 24. Almost all adults age 65 and above are covered primarily by Medicare, and many of them have supplemental private insurance. Men are a little bit more likely to be uninsured. Married individuals and persons with more than a high school education are much more likely to be insured. Most of the uninsured (88 percent) are in good to excellent health. The likelihood of being insured rises with income and full-time work status, although nearly half (47 percent) of the uninsured are full-time workers. Hispanics are considerably more likely than those in any other ethnic category to be uninsured (over 30 percent). More than a quarter of the uninsured are foreign-born. By Census Bureau estimates, about 10 million uninsured are not citizens and half of them are illegal immigrants.

Also, watch this video of Dr. June O’Neill, former CBO director and author of a study of the uninsured:

Ramirez has a terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives a fascinating look at political history.  Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here.  And don’t forget to check out the entire IBD site, while individual investors still exist.


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Well done.

myrenovations on July 24, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Ed, AP, you’ve got to get video of Beck’s Americorp oath skit he did just now. It was frickin’ hilarious!

FloatingRock on July 24, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Love it. Anyone know where to get the numbers that back this up?

Chuck Schick on July 24, 2009 at 5:19 PM

Ed, AP, you’ve got to get video of Beck’s Americorp oath skit he did just now. It was frickin’ hilarious!

FloatingRock on July 24, 2009 at 5:18 PM

If it doesn’t make Beck look bad, they won’t play it here.

redrock on July 24, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Ramirez sugar-coated it. “I’d rather live fancy and let you pick up the hospital tab.

Laura in Maryland on July 24, 2009 at 5:21 PM

This Ramirez guy is always right on the money. This whole health care debate should BEGIN with a discussion of who is actually “uninsured” and why? I, personally, am in the first category; I can afford it, but I choose to spend my money on other things. That’s MY problem, not the government’s and not my fellow taxpayers.

LiquidH2O on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

A picture worth more than a thousand “Let me be clear” statements.

Fletch54 on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

Yeah, I’m a mix between the first two. I’m healthy and have money saved up if something tragic happens, but health insurance at this point isn’t worth it. I’d be paying a lot more than what I’m getting.

Plus, for a couple years I thought my job would get some, as they were stringing us along in saying.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

Poll question:

Would you rather first have a JOB, or HEALTH INSURANCE?

(Since having health insurance won’t get you a job, but having a job can certainly get you health insurance.)

It’s the JOBS, Barry, ~you pontificating bassackwards boob.

profitsbeard on July 24, 2009 at 5:25 PM

That Ramirez cartoon is a chart. Banned!!!!

WashJeff on July 24, 2009 at 5:26 PM

This Ramirez guy is always right on the money. This whole health care debate should BEGIN with a discussion of who is actually “uninsured” and why? I, personally, am in the first category; I can afford it, but I choose to spend my money on other things. That’s MY problem, not the government’s and not my fellow taxpayers.

LiquidH2O on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

Zackly.

BTW, I find myself enjoying and nodding along with Beck and it’s scaring me.

califdreamnred on July 24, 2009 at 5:29 PM

LiquidH2O on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

If people actually ran the numbers, many (if not most) would see that health insurance is really only worth the cost in the event of some major health issue. I spent years completely uninsured, by choice, figuring that I was young and in good health and could use my money better. Looking back, I probably should have gotten some sort of catastrophic insurance, but I had no need for health insurance in general.

DrMagnolias on July 24, 2009 at 5:32 PM

People who don’t have insurance and pay for their own care out of pocket, or even just pay their bills after an emergency, are not burdening others the way that those that utilize insurance or government programs do burden others.

Having insurance or utilizing government programs involves spreading the costs among many, so the claim that’s often made, that not having insurance burdens society, is very often false. It may be true for illegal aliens and some percentage of the population, but in many cases they are less of a burden—-or rather, not a burden at all.

I’ve been to the emergency room and gone to the doctor at times when I didn’t have insurance and I’ve always paid the bills.

FloatingRock on July 24, 2009 at 5:32 PM

This would be great if facts mattered in this debate. Health care reform as currently presented has very little to do with insurance and a whole lot to do with the government taking over 15% of the economy. Combine this with the 10% they are trying for with Cap and Trade and the “fear mongers” warning about big brother don’t look so nutty.

A line by line dissection of the available House bill reads like Orwell. This is a primary reason they are trying to pass unread bills, Health care and the above mentioned Cap and Trade which House members bragged they did not read.

patrick neid on July 24, 2009 at 5:35 PM

If there are no government figures available to the public on how many are covered by health insurance in the United States…I’ve spent the past few months looking…then how can the government come up with a figure of 45 million uninsured?

[On a related note, if only Billy Mays had actually purchased one of those "I Can" health insurance policies he shilled for and used it, Billy might still be shilling.]

coldwarrior on July 24, 2009 at 5:35 PM

Ramirez must be wrong. I was watching BBC America and saw a promo for one of their news programs, and this is how the BBC News announcer framed the matter:

He said that, while the politicians in Washington conduct business as usual, 47 million uninsured wait anxiously for a solution.

Get that? All 47 million are an indistinguishable, huddled, helpless mass waiting for the government to save them. That’s how the journalists see this.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 5:42 PM

BTW, I find myself enjoying and nodding along with Beck and it’s scaring me.

califdreamnred on July 24, 2009 at 5:29 PM

See now, you just came down a couple of notches in my book. ;) :p

profitsbeard on July 24, 2009 at 5:25 PM

GREAT post. Very good point.

LiquidH2O on July 24, 2009 at 5:44 PM

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

No, Esthier, you are just another one of the 47 million waiting feverishly for the government to save you. Objective BBC journalists said so.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 5:45 PM

The main trouble with insurance is that a lot of so called smart people don’t understand it. These folks want a $ 100 deductible and a $ 50 month premium and the insurance company pay for everything else.

Dire Straits on July 24, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Data supporting the cartoon come from Census Bureau reports. A sample one is not light reading, but someone has to do it.

Census also discusses the fact that illegal aliens are probably included in the Current Population Survey (the most widely quoted health insurance measure) and says that “Because all residents of the United States living in households are represented in the sample of households interviewed by the CPS, undocumented immigrants or illegal aliens are probably included in CPS data. Because the CPS makes no attempt to ascertain the legal status of any person interviwed, these individuals cannot be identified from CPS data.” You can likely see this from the high uninsured rates of people who report themselves as foreign born. If you went around asking about legal status, people might not answer your questions, so this makes sense.

Finally CPS estimates differ greatly from SIPP estimates. The SIPP follows people for over a year rather than asking them at a point of time. This is a sample paper discussing the different estimates between the CPS and SIPP.

As a final note, it is well known, but not reported, that the percentage of people who are uninsured has not changed much since the late 1980s. Here is a representative graph built from census data.

Everyone should be asking the pols why the sudden mega trillion crisis in view of the fact that the percentage of uninsured hasn’t changed much in over a decade despite the influx of millions of illegal aliens.

secant on July 24, 2009 at 5:51 PM

My brother is 60 and has never had health insurance. He has lived mostly in cash his entire adult life. When he needs to see a doctor, he pays cash. He’s a heavy smoker, and he knows he may end up with heart disease or cancer, though thank God he is very healthy from a lifetime of hard physical work and activity. But he will pay the bills himself, or die. He doesn’t even want me or my other siblings to help. He has made his choices.

rockmom on July 24, 2009 at 5:52 PM

No, Esthier, you are just another one of the 47 million waiting feverishly for the government to save you. Objective BBC journalists said so.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Feverishly? Seriously?

People don’t even pretend to hide their bias, and it’s sickening. I was covered under my parents’ insurance until I got married at 22. I would have been covered until 24 otherwise. But by the time I hit college, I wasn’t going to regular checkups and had cheap access at the school anyway.

I’m not missing much. When we’ve needed to go, there’s a CareNow clinic nearby that’s affordable. We’ve even been responsible about saving money and can afford to keep the student loans a little longer to pay off a big medical bill if need be.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 5:54 PM

We’ve known this for years. But the GOP sat on their thumbs and didn’t address it.

Criminal incompetence.

Even Ogabe knew what a weak argument 47 million was, which is why he’s tried to sell government control of HC as an economic issue.

guntotinglibertarian on July 24, 2009 at 5:55 PM

Feverishly? Seriously?

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 5:54 PM

Well, “feverish” is my word, not theirs, but the BBC promo guy did present the uninsured as a single bloc of like-minded people, all looking for a solution, all looking to Washington to provide the solution.

Even for a knee-jerk organization like the BBC, the statist bias was remarkable.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 6:01 PM

Even for a knee-jerk organization like the BBC, the statist bias was remarkable.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 6:01 PM

It’s not just them though. Most people assume that “uninsured” means poor and needy, as though we’d die without government help.

My plan is to get health insurance before we start having kids, but I even know co-workers who just paid for it out of pocket. 6k isn’t cheap, but it’s doable and could wind up being cheaper depending on what kind of insurance you can get, what the deductible is, etc.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Hispanics are considerably more likely than those in any other ethnic category to be uninsured (over 30 percent). More than a quarter of the uninsured are foreign-born. By Census Bureau estimates, about 10 million uninsured are not citizens and half of them are illegal immigrants.

And those people make a choice to send their money back to their “real” countries. Is anyone naive enough to think that they couldn’t buy health insurance with some of those billions? But, why should they, when our laws require them to be treated for “free?” Not “free” to the taxpayer, of course, but free to the recipient of our largess. Bah!

califcon on July 24, 2009 at 6:09 PM

I think before I pay for your health care there should be a test administered by me.

1) Do you own a flat screen HD ready TV?
2) Is said TV hooked up to HD and cable/Dish?
3) What type of car do you drive?
4) How much is your house worth and how much equity do you have in it?
5) What are you eating habits? i.e. do you eat out at least twice a week?

Don’t like socialism? Don’t want me making these choices for you? Don’t force me to pay for your health care. Make the sacrifice, forego the HDTV and get yourself some damn healthcare (if you want it).

alohapundit on July 24, 2009 at 6:13 PM

It’s that fourth category – “I’m in between jobs and temporarily unisured” that should give everyone pause. It doesn’t help workers or employers when one’s health insurance policy is so intricately tied to one’s place of employment.

DaveO on July 24, 2009 at 6:18 PM

I’d like to know what planet all these uninsured people live on where the rest of us have to pay for their medical care.

That seems to be the big excuse everyone uses for “healthcare reform”. The notion that you can not pay for health insurance, get into a car accident, and walk away without owing anything.

Where does that ever happen? Even if you have health insurance, if you don’t pay the co-pay you’re not off the hook.

In over 30 years of paying for health insurance I only used it once. When I had my kid. I had a co-pay on a diabetes test that got lost in all the forms and bills I got.

They sic’d a collection agency on me to collect the $25 I neglected to pay. And they billed me an extra $15 for the late payment.

Who in this country walks out of a hospital, anywhere, without owing anything?

That’s a myth that has become reality only in politicians minds.

Jaynie59 on July 24, 2009 at 6:26 PM

I’d like to know what planet all these uninsured people live on where the rest of us have to pay for their medical care.

It’s a myth that even the majority of us want anyone else to foot our bills.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Adding up the numbers in Ramirez’ cartoon gives a total of 59.9 million. Shhhh! Don’t tell Barry O, cause he’ll put the new number in the TOTUS!

Unless some people are in more than one category, such as indestructible young people between jobs whose parents can afford it but don’t want it, or children of illegal aliens.

Steve Z on July 24, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Unless some people are in more than one category, such as indestructible young people between jobs whose parents can afford it but don’t want it, or children of illegal aliens.

Steve Z on July 24, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Check the * on the cartoon. He admits to an overlap.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 6:33 PM

It’s a myth that even the majority of us want anyone else to foot our bills.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 6:30 PM

That’s enough lip out of you! Sign up for the government plan NOW, so we can arrange a convenient time for your Euthanasia at the soylent green factory.

There’s no more time to waste.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 6:33 PM

BTW, I find myself enjoying and nodding along with Beck and it’s scaring me.

califdreamnred on July 24, 2009 at 5:29 PM

It will be really scary if you start crying with Beck.

Steve Z on July 24, 2009 at 6:34 PM

Sign up for the government plan NOW, so we can arrange a convenient time for your Euthanasia at the soylent green factory.

Kensington on July 24, 2009 at 6:33 PM

Or… wait… I meant, I’m helpless without the Lightworker. I never said otherwise.

Esthier on July 24, 2009 at 6:37 PM

grammar nazi:

who/whom exactly the 47 million comprises, not

who exactly comprises the 47 million

.

Ozwitch on July 24, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Barry, Nancy and Harry are NOT interested in health care. They are interested in CONTROL! That’s why any compromise which precludes a government option is immediately unacceptable to them. Just like getting rid of the ‘secret’ ballot in union elections via CardCheck legislation; this would give them nothing.

GarandFan on July 24, 2009 at 6:49 PM

One quibble with Ramirez. His “I’m an illegal and I’m not here” should read: “I’m an illegal and I want health care insurance but I can’t afford it, so I demand that you U.S. taxpayers fund it for me, because that’s only fair.”

AZCoyote on July 24, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Ramirez sugar-coated it. “I’d rather live fancy and let you pick up the hospital tab.

Laura in Maryland on July 24, 2009 at 5:21 PM

AMEN!! Cell phone, acrylic nails, massages, fancy designer clothes, handbags, shoes. Health care? Oh, we can get that free at any ER.

Ris4victory on July 24, 2009 at 6:50 PM

This is something the GOP should be saying every minute of every hour of every day. I have known about this mythical 45 or 50 million uninsured for 10 years. Yet you never hear a peep from the GOP. It’s almost like they want they asses kicked every 2 years.

angryed on July 24, 2009 at 6:56 PM

It’s that fourth category – “I’m in between jobs and temporarily unisured” that should give everyone pause. It doesn’t help workers or employers when one’s health insurance policy is so intricately tied to one’s place of employment.

Millions of people buy their own health insurance direct, just like their car insurance. It isn’t tied to their employment. The reason everyone doesn’t do it has to do with another government foul-up–the differential tax treatment of health insurance purchased through an employer versus health insurance paid for with after tax dollars.

It is stupid for health insurance to be tied to one’s job. To change that, change the tax law and get rid of state regulations that keep private insurers from selling the products that people want, specifically requirements for guaranteed issue, which makes health insurance nothing but a sickness pool, and community rating which puts price controls on policies so that the young can be ripped off in favor of the old.

secant on July 24, 2009 at 6:58 PM

I just got a letter today from my heath insurer stating that my rates are going up September 1st from $601/month to $709.

Course, that’s after they mistakenly sent a letter last week saying they were going down by $200/month.

Happy Friday.

The Ugly American on July 24, 2009 at 6:58 PM

Mr. Ramirez sure does have a knack for pointing out the faults of liberal policies. I pray that he keeps doing well so we can have a good laugh every now and again.

ConservadorRebelde on July 24, 2009 at 7:04 PM

Over the last 10 years there were months, literally months when either my son or I or both for some reason or another were not insured. If either of us needed a doctor or hospital, we went and I paid. It is shocking to me that we would have been counted among the uninsured as it was always a brief interlude, a month between jobs, when my son was 19 out of school and his job did not offer insurance, again a few months. I would think that adds a lot of people to the rolls of the alleged uninsured.

Willie on July 24, 2009 at 7:45 PM

I have type 1 diabetes and couldn’t afford insurance even if I wanted it–and no, the government has no program for me; into which category do I fall?

The only thing I want from the government, btw, is action on the biogeneric issue. There’s no good reason to not let companies know what hoops they need to jump through to get into the game. But they can’t even do that, the jerks.

VerbumSap on July 24, 2009 at 8:39 PM

Another excellent dissection of the misleading “47 million” figure courtesy of Business and Media:

However, the Census Bureau report “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005,” puts the initial number of uninsured people living in the country at 46.577 million.

A closer look at that report reveals the Census data include 9.487 million people who are “not a citizen.” Subtracting the 10 million non-Americans, the number of uninsured Americans falls to roughly 37 million.

…But according to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326.

Subtracting non-citizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it, about 20 million people are left — less than 7 percent of the population.

…So what is the true extent of the uninsured “crisis?” The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report.

Kaiser’s 8.2 million figure for the chronically uninsured only includes those uninsured for two years or more. It is also worth noting, that, 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Paul_in_NJ on July 24, 2009 at 8:45 PM

I have type 1 diabetes and couldn’t afford insurance even if I wanted it–and no, the government has no program for me; into which category do I fall?

By federal law, every state has to make insurance available for the uninsurable. Most have high risk pools. Some have an insurer of last resort. Others have completely destroyed their markets by requiring guaranteed issue. Some subsidize the premium more if your income is below a certain level. In that case the premiums are roughly the same as someone without diabetes buying a policy in the open market.

Your state should have such a program. It will cost more than a standard policy but yes, there is a government program for you.

secant on July 24, 2009 at 11:05 PM

I hope Ramirez doesn’t mind if I download this strip, and mail it to a few hundred of my friends, asking them to do the same.

Vashta.Nerada on July 24, 2009 at 11:32 PM

This Ramirez work is very telling if you’re a logical person.

Liberals aren’t logical. They’re dangerous.

They could care less if the country is bankrupted and descends into bloody anarchy. They don’t think that far ahead about the consequences of their actions.

scotash on July 25, 2009 at 4:13 AM

This Ramirez guy is always right on the money. This whole health care debate should BEGIN with a discussion of who is actually “uninsured” and why? I, personally, am in the first category; I can afford it, but I choose to spend my money on other things. That’s MY problem, not the government’s and not my fellow taxpayers.

LiquidH2O on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

You need to get a catastrophic policy from a reputable company ASAP. Catastrophic policies aren’t that expensive, but you need to do it now…before you get diagnosed with something. It will also cover accidental injuries. A broken femur or any compound fracture will cost thousands and thousands of dollars to treat.

Your decision to be 100% uninsured definitely does affect others, because if you don’t carry cheap, catastrophic coverage, you won’t be able to cover your bills if something bad happens. Buy the catastrophic coverage….and then you can truly say

That’s MY problem, not the government’s and not my fellow taxpayers.

LiquidH2O on July 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

funky chicken on July 25, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Ramirez sugar-coated it. “I’d rather live fancy and let you pick up the hospital tab.

Laura in Maryland on July 24, 2009 at 5:21 PM

AMEN!! Cell phone, acrylic nails, massages, fancy designer clothes, handbags, shoes. Health care? Oh, we can get that free at any ER.

Ris4victory on July 24, 2009 at 6:50 PM

correct

funky chicken on July 25, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Careful now; he did draw a cartoon making fun of Palin’s resignation – I think that makes him some sort of elitist..

Reaps on July 25, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Your state should have such a program. It will cost more than a standard policy but yes, there is a government program for you.

secant on July 24, 2009 at 11:05 PM

There are about a (baker’s?) dozen states that offer premium subsidies for the high risk pools. Mine is not one of them. Further, the state law requires that the premiums be set at twice the standard rate. My total out-of-pocket costs over the past 10 years has been about $6k, and that’s a bit less than what a single year of insurance would cost even with the highest deductible.

I’m not complaining, just saying that yes there are individuals who simply can’t afford what is available. Years ago I talked to a doctor who has two kids with IDDM and he said he couldn’t afford the insurance for them, either, just paid as they went. (But I’m sure he could afford handbags and shoes for them, too.)

The last thing I want is for the government to step in and say I have to get insurance. Next they’ll be telling me I have to use it. As it is, should the worst happen (I’m unconscious and my spouse overrides my strict instructions to never take me to an ER), we can make low monthly payments forever…or until I’m dead. Still cheaper.

VerbumSap on July 25, 2009 at 1:09 PM

I suppose I would qualify in the category third from the right…except ‘temporarily between jobs’ means ‘unable to get so much as a burger-flipping position due to the rotten economy.’

A lot of truth here, but the truth about stuff as complicated as health insurance is usually not as simple as we’d all like it to be.

Dark-Star on July 26, 2009 at 2:41 PM

I think before I pay for your health care there should be a test administered by me.

1) Do you own a flat screen HD ready TV?
2) Is said TV hooked up to HD and cable/Dish?
3) What type of car do you drive?
4) How much is your house worth and how much equity do you have in it?
5) What are you eating habits? i.e. do you eat out at least twice a week?

I’ll take that test, gladly.

1) No. (
2) No and no.
2.5) I’m never going to buy any of the above unless I can get them for an absolute steal of a price. TV programming is even more worthless now than it was when I was a kid. 10,000 channels and NOTHING good on.
3) None. I ride the city bus, AKA ‘the Freakmobile.’
4) What house?
5) I eat out less than once a week, unless you consider diet soda eating out. Even then I try to stick to healthier places like Subway.

Dark-Star on July 26, 2009 at 2:49 PM

funky chicken on July 25, 2009 at 9:29 AM

I see, I see. I’ll look into that (and YES, that’s a serious response, not a *wink, wink* ‘Yeah, sure’ response).

LiquidH2O on July 27, 2009 at 2:54 AM