July 5, 2009
Thank you for your continued involvement in my research project about health insurance and health care. I used some of my research to write a letter to the editor of The Eagle, my newspaper. It appeared yesterday. Here's what I wrote:
I’m not sure what Bill Hunter meant when he wrote (June 30) that President Barack Obama is about to “parade some sad anecdotes before us” to convince us of the need for health care reform. In Brazos County, where I live, 18.4% of the population or 28,747 people had no health insurance in 2005. In Leon County, where Mr. Hunter lives, another 2823 (17.3%) were uninsured. Almost 7,000 of those without any form of health insurance in these two counties were children.
While these numbers may seem high, our counties are better off than many parts of our state. In 2006, Texas had the highest uninsured rate in the nation, with one in four Texans living without insurance. That translated into 5.7 million Texans with no coverage. Having so many uninsured Texans creates problems for the rest of us.
According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission a high rate of uninsured citizens contributes to:
• Poorer health outcomes, because the uninsured have more difficulty securing access to primary and preventive care;
• Increased costs of private insurance, because those with insurance pay higher premiums to subsidize the uninsured;
• Over reliance on safety net providers, including hospitals and emergency rooms, for care that is more expensive than care received in another setting, such as a doctor’s office;
• An increased likelihood of hospitalization for the uninsured for conditions that are avoidable; and
• Increased mortality rates.
What anecdotes could President Obama relate that would be sadder than these grim statistics? Insuring Aunt Mable might make her family feel better, but common sense economics tells the rest of us that we’d all be better off reforming the health care system.