Exactly how big was the increase amongst the uninsured?

The San Francisco Chronicle has a front page story today about the record number of uninsured people in California:

A record 6.8 million Californians, nearly 1 in 5 of the state’s residents, went without health insurance at some time during 2006, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, a record 47 million Americans, including 8.7 million children, lacked health coverage, the report said.

The survey comes as elected officials in cities, at the state Capitol and in Washington grapple with the growing problems of uninsured residents and the rising cost of care.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders held a closed-door meeting Tuesday to talk about their differences over health care legislation. Meanwhile, San Francisco officials are rolling out a program designed to provide care to 82,000 uninsured residents of the city.

In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the new estimates illustrate the need for Congress to approve new funding for children’s health care. And presidential candidates have been quick to offer their own reform proposals as voters identify health care as a top issue.

There’s more to the article, but I deliberately stopped quoting at the last paragraph because of Pelosi’s instant demand that, using children as the lever, taxpayers begin health care funding above and beyond what we’re already funding. The article uses the word “children” seven times, hammering away with ever increasing ferocity on that point:

The majority of uninsured children in the state also were found to be living with family incomes of less than $41,300 per year, according to the census report.

Although the report did not break down where uninsured residents live by city, a report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released in March showed that the Bay Area did a better job than the rest of the state in providing health coverage.

The UCLA report found that in the Bay Area in 2005, there were about 900,000 people without health care, 99,000 of whom were children.

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an advocacy group based in Oakland, said that the lack of insurance for children and adults means that their care is generally provided at hospital emergency rooms where the most expensive care in the system is dispensed.

The frequent mention of the word children got my antenna up, because I’d already noted that, in the illegal immigrant debate, children were used as the rhetorical thin edge of the wedge by those (usually in the media), who think open borders and tax payer funding for illegals are fine things. For that reason, I began to view this as less of a news item, and more of an advocacy piece. With that little red light blinking, I asked myself a couple of questions: The first was whether the increase in the number of uninsured is related to illegal immigrants (who are has nowhere mentioned in the article), and the second was whether the uninsured are actually poor or are voluntarily uninsured. Matt Lewis answers both those questions with respect to an LA Times story that has the same spin as the Chron report:

The LA Times has once again proven the old adage about lies, damn lies, and statistics. In a story today, they open with this:

The number of Americans without health insurance rose last year from 44.8 million, or 15.3% of the population, to 47 million, or 15.8%, the Census Bureau reported today.

… But there’s only one problem. Upon closer inspecting the Census report, what the LA Times call “Americans” the U.S. Census (page 29) refers to (more accurately) as “People.”You see, when you subtract the 10 million, or so, folks referred to in the U.S. Census as, “Not a Citizen,” you are left with just 37 million – not 47 million as The Times suggests.)

What is more, of the 37 million actual U.S. citizens without healthcare, 17.7 million earn more than $50,000 a year — and could certainly afford insurance if they wanted it.

But the LA Times story was really about how the number of Americans without health insurance has increased this year. Looking again at the U.S. Census (again, page 29), you it is clear that almost 40 percent of the increase is due to non-citizens.

In other words, illegal immigrants making demands on the system account for the greatest part of the increase that serves as the basis for a story about pathetically uninsured children, which, in turn, is part of a continuing MSM meme that conflates child welfare with increased rights for illegal, as opposed to legal, immigrants. And so on and so on.

I feel at this point I should state a few things regular readers know. I’m the child of legal immigrants and believe that legal immigration is a huge part of what makes America a strong and vital country. I am utterly opposed to illegal immigration, because it is cheating, because it weakens our borders, and because it makes it impossible for our government to do what governments ought to be able to do: keep economic and social stability by preventing the uncontrolled influx of unskilled and, in many cases, criminal people. If we need more workers, Congress should pass a law allowing more unskilled labor in. It’s Congress’ and the American people’s choice — it’s not the choice of whatever person wants to cross the border to earn money to send back to Mexico. I also believe that illegal immigration will keep Mexico poor and corrupt forever, as both its citizens and its government rely on American jobs and wealth to prop up their own sagging economy and corrupt institutions.

I also believe that health insurance is a very useful thing. Rather than having the government manage health care, though, which they do exceptionally badly, I would prefer to open the market to more and more self-insurance options, options attractive to those 17.7 million people earning more than $50,000/year who have opted to do without insurance. But that’s not where either the article nor the politicians quoted in the article were heading, is it?

UPDATE:  Looks as if the Tories are trying to woo voters by promising to cut back on legal immigrants to Britain who are burdening the endless welfare benefits.

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  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ Zabrina

    Brilliant analysis and sharp words. Thank-you for this! You are so right.