Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Statistical Reality

It's an odd statistical number that you can't track down in the first place, nor in the second place.  We never knew precisely how many American were walking around without health insurance prior to 2009....the best numbers were somewhere between twenty-five million and forty-five million.  You can go and find at least forty different measurement methods, and they all differ to some degree.

Explanations for those without health insurance before 2009?  It generally went into three categories.  You had the group who just said it was too expensive.  Then you had the group who were young (eighteen to thirty years old), who figured they'd handle the thousand here and four-thousand there, out of their pocket, and just avoid stupid monthly payments.  Finally, you had the group who questioned the commercial side of this....never wanting to allow a middle man to come in and profit off them.

So, now the 2014 number.  This week, I came across an article that a journalist had done a fair amount of homework, and noted that the latest numbers say that forty-one million Americans are without health insurance.  Again, it's a statistical game, and his method might be right, or might be wrong.....you just can't tell.

The reasons?  Same three.

You'd think with the government subsidy, and some families getting insurance down around $250 a month....this would all work and be fine.  Well....that family getting the subsidy and the $250 a month rate.....had a deductible, and in almost all cases....it was around $6,000.

Deductibles are strange things.  I once went to a insurance agent about my car insurance.  I wanted the rate cut.  After playing around with the numbers....the agent finally said I could actually cut my monthly rate in half.....but I'd have to accept a $5,000 deductible.  It was a rather new car, so I felt fine.....I accepted that.  Had it been a four-year old car.....and I'd totaled out the car in an accident....I doubt if the insurance company would have paid out more than $2,000.

Who has $6,000 laying around in a typical year?  If you make less than $50,000 a year.....I'd take a guess that only ten-percent of these people have such money laying there, and most could not sustain year-after-year of $6,000 going out for a medical deductible situation.

Flipping the commonly used $6,000 deductible over to a lesser amount, like $3,000?  A working class family would say the same thing.....they really don't have even that much money to fool around with.  They've burdened themselves with car payments, car insurance, a monthly mortgage, school-required stuff, cable TV, a smart-phone or two within the family, a short vacation each summer, high utility payments, a heating bill for each winter, and non-budgeted items like tires, veterinary bills, $75 tennis shoe purchases for junior, and occasional transmission repairs.

The reality here is that a bunch of guys went off to DC, and thought they could fix the world.  They weren't middle-class or working-class guys....they were paper-giants of the political type.  They used numbers from various special agenda groups, talked a thousand-words per minute, and more than capable of writing two thousand pages of text.  The end-result?  Nothing, over nothing, solving nothing, and thunderous applause at a magnificent feat.

The trouble here is that no journalist who gave peppy talk in this 2009 about what was coming....can stand there now and say much.  We seem to have lost some trust and generally become more cynical about "experts".  We'd all like to ask the expert about the deductible business, and how it fits into real life.  But, that's just not possible to engage these guys in a real debate.

A total waste?  Yeah....if we did all this shifting of taxation around, massive hardcore talk over "change", and added thousands of pages of regulation.....only to find it did nothing to fix the problem. Kinda hard to stand there and say much.  We fixed what we could fix and left the remaining pieces there on the ground.  It's not a pretty picture.