Dear Hon. Eshoo,
I understand the pressures on Congress to create legislation to reform access to health care, however I strongly believe several basic tenants upon which the current legislation is premised are gravely in error. In this email I will address only one.
"47 million Americans are without health insurance."
This frequently quoted statistic is highly misleading.
The figure based on 2007 data and extrapolated to 2009. The actual 2007 figure was 45.7 million. From this starting point, the following groups of people must be subtracted in order to arrive at an estimate of the involuntarily uninsured (those who could not afford medical insurance, even though they would like to.)
Of the 45.7 million:
A. 6.4 million are due to the Medicaid undercount.
B. 4.3 million are eligible for government-supplied free or heavily subsidized insurance, but have chosen not to apply.
C. 9.3 million are non-citizens.
D. 10.1 million have incomes more than three times the poverty level and ostensibly could afford to purchase insurance but for a variety of reasons have chosen not to.
E. 5 million are adults 18-34 years of age without children, and may have rationally chosen to pay for their medical care directly rather than through insurance.
Another error is counting as "uninsured" anyone who was with medical insurance at any point in time during the year. A CBO report from 2003, "How many People Lack Insurance and for How Long?" states that 25-50% of the "uninsured" actually lacked insurance for less than one year.
Subtracting the above groups leaves only 10.6 million uninsured. This means the problem you are attempting to address concerns 3.5% of the US population--not the 15% which 47 million implies.
We do not need to mandate universal medical insurance in order to address a small subset of Americans. You have written "The House legislation as written today will ensure that 97% of all Americans will have coverage under a healthcare plan that is affordable and offers quality, standard benefits." However, nearly 97% of Americans already have insurance or have chosen to go without. Cheaper solutions exist which are more in line with the American principles of the individual rights to life, liberty and property.
Please do not support the current legislation. It is a non-solution to a non-problem.
Beth Haynes, MD
Further information can be found at these sources:
"How many uninsured people need additional help from taxpayers?" Keith Hennessey
"Why on Earth...Are So Many Americans Uninsured?" Bradley Doucet
"Who are the Uninsured?" June and Dave O'Neill
If you prefer a video, here's a talk by the O'Neills: