I don’t have actual knowledge here. I’m just wondering.
The lede from the AP is that the number of uninsured dropped by more than a million people last year:
The number of people without health insurance fell by more than 1 million in 2007, the first annual decline since the Bush administration took office, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
The AP attributes that decline to more government insurance, and AP may well be right, since I don’t have data documents in front of me:
The welcome news on health insurance coverage was tempered by the continued erosion of private coverage paid for by employers and individuals. Government programs — such as Medicaid for the poor — picked up the slack, resulting in the overall reduction in people without health insurance.
The uninsured rate also fell to 15.3 percent, down from 15.8 percent in 2006.
“Private insurance has been falling (and) public insurance definitely went up,” said David Johnson, who oversees the Census division that produced the statistics. The number of uninsured children also fell in 2007, after an increase in 2006 that had interrupted years of progress in getting more kids covered.
I wonder, though, if there’s not one other factor driving down the numbers of uninsured: the fact that illegal aliens are self-deporting as US immigration laws are finally getting enforced. Interestingly, the rate of returning immigrants is just about the same as the drop in uninsured:
Illegal immigrants are returning home to Mexico in numbers not seen for decades — and the Mexican government may have to deal with a crush on its social services and lower wages once the immigrants arrive.
The Mexican Consulate’s office in Dallas is seeing increasing numbers of Mexican nationals requesting paperwork to go home for good, especially parents who want to know what documentation they’ll need to enroll their children in Mexican schools.
“Those numbers have increased percentage-wise tremendously,” said Enrique Hubbard, the Mexican consul general in Dallas. “In fact, it’s almost 100 percent more this year than it was the previous two years.”
The illegal immigrant population in the U.S. has dropped 11 percent since August of last year, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Its research shows 1.3 million illegal immigrants have returned to their home countries.
I have no idea if there is any cause and effect at work here. I just think it’s interesting.