Overblown: Uninsured rate greatly exaggerated

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: September 14, 2009 at 4:08 am •  Published: September 14, 2009
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The number of uninsured in Oklahoma, like the demise of Obamacare, has been greatly exaggerated. The president’s health care reform package is far from dead, but its absolute necessity for attacking Oklahoma’s uninsured problem is overblown.

New Census Bureau figures put the Oklahoma uninsured rate at 14 percent, which is actually a decrease from the previous estimate. Using the 2008 population estimate of 3.64 million, the state has just over 500,000 uninsured. This compares with recent claims from Obamacare supporters that Oklahoma has as many as 720,000 uninsured.

Also, a number of American Indians are listed as uninsured because they have no traditional health insurance. They do, however, have access to Indian health care programs. If half the Indian population were removed from the total, the uninsured population falls to fewer than 350,000.

This is not an attempt to minimize the uninsured problem. For those in that category, their status is supremely important. However, because advocates of radical health care reform always use the uninsured rate to bolster their arguments, facts are important.

The uninsured rate is a moving picture. Figures released within 12 hours of President Obama’s impassioned appeal for reform may already be out of date — too high or too low. In six months, with or without reform, economic conditions could mean a worsening or improvement in the figures.

For the 86 percent of Oklahomans with insurance, restructuring health care should be founded on rational arguments, not emotional appeals based on inflated numbers.


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