There's that number again: 45 million.
That's supposedly the number of people in America who don't have health insurance. How do I know that? Well, for one, President Obama's said it, like, 45 million times.
Democrats also love to say it. Michael Moore quoted it in his last movie, "SICKO" which in hindsight may as well have been a commercial for Obama-care.
Enter "45 mil" into the Google search bar, and before you're even done typing it will fill out the rest for you: "45 million uninsured." Finish typing in the search term and Google will bring up 147,000 results. The figure is quite literally everywhere. And now it's being used by the Obama administration to convince average Americans of two things: the uninsured represent a sizeable group in America; and Obama's plan will make health care more affordable and accessible to everyone, especially those 45 million.
Both premises are patently false -- the number of uninsured is far fewer than 45 million, and the Congressional Budget Office finds that Obamacare will practically bankrupt us, while simultaneously penalizing citizens and businesses who refuse coverage. It will also probably mean that the quality of our health care system will plummet, countless patients will not receive the life-saving care they need, good doctors will be driven out of business, and fewer people will actually want to become doctors. But 45 million Americans will finally get health insurance.
Considering the scope of Obama's massive proposal for health care overhaul, shouldn't we be considering how the vast majority of Americans will be affected, as opposed to just a small minority? (And, even a smaller minority than is often suggested?) Indeed, isn't it the number of insured Americans that should matter, since they are the ones whose medical coverage is about to drastically change for good?
This number, the number of insured Americans, is not an easy figure to find. Just try Googling it and you'll navigate through a frustrating labyrinth of dead ends, most of which lead you directly back to that uninsured "45 million" number. Eventually I had to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau to get an answer.
It turns out that 253.4 million Americans -- or a whopping 83% of the country -- have health insurance, whether it's through private insurers, employer-based coverage, a government program or Medicaid/Medicare. The majority, 202 million of the 253.4 million, pay for private insurance.
And as a number of clever skeptics have recently pointed out, breaking down the 45 million number reveals that far fewer folks are actually uninsured. Nearly 10 million of those 45 million aren't even American citizens, and nearly 17 million of them can easily afford insurance, but choose not to get it (these folks will be taxed under Obamacare for opting out.) When the numbers are crunched, it turns out that only 11 million legal American citizens who would like health insurance don't have it, and even that figure is likely high. If we take it at 11 million, that's less than 4% of the country.
Now, it's important that we get health care to those 4%, of course. But is it really necessary to rip apart the health care system we currently have to do it? Yes, we all want better coverage that's more affordable and easier to navigate. Obamacare doesn't solve any of these. All it does is help less than 4% of the country get health insurance, while putting the rest of us through a tangled maze of bureaucracy, for worse care that costs just as much, maybe more. The long-term effects are even more frightening, but in the short term do we really want to penalize the many in favor of the (very) few?