President Barack Obama used his health-care summit Thursday to underscore the many lies he has consistently told about the American health-care system. Most notably, he echoed his favorite canardâ€”the notion that there are â€œnearly 46 million uninsuredâ€ in the United States. Of course it is politically shrewd to grossly inflate and distort the actual figures, and to thereby give the impression that the health-care â€œcrisisâ€ is too large for any entity other than the long arms of government to effectively wrap themselves around. But in actuality, the figure Obama cites is pure fiction. Stated more succinctly, it is a lie. And if Obama is indeed the kind of genius that his disciples have proclaimed him to be, then he knows quite well that it is a lie.
Here is the reality, as explained by Sally Pipes in her monumentally important book, The Top Ten Myths of American Health Careâ€”a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand how health care can be made â€œuniversalâ€ via free-market approaches rather than by handing over the reins to government bureaucrats:
First, about 14 million of the uninsured are low-income Americans who are fully eligible for government assistance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIPâ€”but who simply havenâ€™t gotten around to enrolling in these programs. This is really nothing to worry about, however, since they could visit a doctor, clinic, or hospital anywhere in the country and enroll in those programs on the spot and receive treatment. Can any honest person really argue that these 14 million people are â€œuninsuredâ€?
Another 10 million of the uninsured are not even U.S. citizens; many of them are illegal aliens. Is it good public policy to burden American taxpayers with the health-care costs of non-citizens and illegal immigrants?
And, while Obama broadly paints the uninsured as people who are financially unable to afford health insurance of any kind, the fact is that 28 million of the 46 million uninsured earn more than $50,000 annually. This is well above the national median income. Many ofÂ these 28 millionÂ are healthy young adults who are not insured by their employers and choose not to buy health insurance because they would rather use their money for other things. Americans aged 19 to 29 represent one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the uninsured population.
The demographic groups cited above are not mutually exclusive; there is some overlap. And indeed some people do â€œfall through the cracks.â€ These are mostly people who earn less than $50,000 per year but too much to qualify for government assistance. There are roughly 8 million of these chronically uninsured, and they are indeed in need of assistance.
Obviously, thereâ€™s an enormous gulf between 8 million and 46 million. But if a chronically dishonest political opportunist like Barack ObamaÂ were to present his case with real numbers rather than fictitious ones, he wouldnâ€™t be able to frighten the public into agreeing that we must hurriedly dismantle the most effective and innovative health care system the human race has ever known.