26% Of Working-Age Americans Went Without Health Insurance In 2011

Having health insurance is not only too often tied to having a full-time job, it also usually requires that you be in that job for weeks or months before coverage kicks in. So with so many Americans either without staff jobs or starting work for a new employer, it’s perhaps not surprising that a new study claims that 26% of working-age people in the U.S. went without coverage at some point in 2011.

The study, released by the Commonwealth Fund, looked at lapses in health care coverage for Americans between the ages of 19 and 64, and concluded that approximately 48 million people in that age range experienced a gap in their health insurance last year.

Of those, 69% had gone at least one year without any health insurance, while 57% went uninsured for two years or more.

Of the people whose benefits had previously been provided by their employers, 67% cited a loss or change of a job as the primary reason for losing coverage.

People also ran up against ever-increasing rates for private health insurance. 62% of respondents who tried to buy individual policies in the past three years found it “very difficult or impossible” to locate affordable coverage. 31% of individual policy-seekers were turned down, charged a higher price, or had a condition excluded because of a pre-existing condition. And 45% said they opted to not purchase a policy, mainly because of cost.

The study also confirmed the relationship between having coverage and regular doctor visits, as 92% of working-age adults with continuous health insurance reported having a regular doctor, while only 76% of those with up to one year of an insurance gap could say the same. And for people with coverage gaps of two years or greater, only 46% said they were seeing a physician.

There was an even bigger difference when the study looked at specific treatments. For example, 74% of insured women between the ages of 40 and 64 had received a mammogram in the past two years. That number sunk all the way to 28% for women in the same age group who had gone without insurance for at least a year.


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  1. dks64 says:

    Before Obama made it so parents could still have their adult children on their insurance until 26, I went over a year without insurance. I got my benefits again on January 1st of 2011. Sadly, I lose my coverage again next month, on my birthday. Not having insurance sucks. I would love to be able to afford paying for my own plan, but I’m not at that point yet. I still have 2 years left of schooling to complete. That’s even assuming I can find a job when I get out. Lets just hope I don’t get hit by a bus before I get my coverage back.

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      Yep, that was me a few years back. Luckily I had a late birthday and graduated early so I had a bit of a buffer, but still wound up being uninsured for over a year. When I finally got a job with insurance I had to raise hell to get anything covered because of that lapse. All around no fun, but I can’t imagine the costs had something happened while not covered. It’s not until now that I realize how insane that was

    • Yomiko says:

      Does your school offer a plan? I’m sure you’ve thought of that, though (I noticed most of your comments make sense, so you seem smart).

      Good luck on the not getting hit by a bus thing, I know how that can be :(

    • ckspores says:

      I was able to purchase affordable insurance from both my undergraduate and graduate institutions. See if your school has something similar.

      • Rebecca K-S says:

        Yeah, both universities I’ve attended have required you purchase their coverage if you’re not otherwise covered. It’s pretty reasonable – I think year-round coverage comes to $400 at my current school.

    • BennieHannah says:

      I have two children who are young college grads. My oldest is heading overseas for work and a decent quality of life. My youngest will likely follow. Two of their cousins have also gone overseas for work. I wonder how many bright young people the US is losing to countries that offer more to their citizens than a shrug and a broken bootstrap. A country that doesn’t view basic healthcare as a right is a third world country. (When our children leave, we’ll be packing up as well.)

      • Akuma Matata says:

        could you explain how healthcare is a right, and how that right is to be secured?

        • alternety says:

          Hmm. Try reading the post between your two. Just sayin: how do you feel about the right to water and food that (mostly) won’t kill you, street lights, police, ambulances, fireman, sewers and ensuing treatment, and it goes on to a very long list. Will you be at the border if we ever again fight a war that is actually any of our business.

          I think the correct question is why would you not want good health to be a right (or at least available) to all of our citizens? Have you always been fairly rich (no gaps at any time) and will have plenty of money to cover things when you retire (get too old or injured to work) cause what right do you have to social security or Medicare?

          • Akuma Matata says:

            “why would you not want good health to be a right (or at least available) to all of our citizens?”

            There is a big difference between a right to the resources and labor of another individual (which is what happens when you make a good a “right”) and the right to pursue trade with another to acquire goods or services.

            • ARP says:

              Oh God, a Randian, and pedantic and incorrect one at that. You seems to be muddling the 13th, 14th, and 5th Amendments. 13th Amendment is that you can’t be forced to work, compensation or not. Meaning, you can’t force someone to work, even if you pay them (things get a bit strange when its comes to specific performance, but its largely the case). The 5th and 14th (which incorporates the 5th on a state and local government scale) states that you can’t have your stuff taken away without due process of law and/or compensation. The Constitution allowed for the laying of taxes and promotion of the general welfare, so yes, they can tax you and spend it on other people whether you like it or not. Essentially, due process is built into the Constitution when it comes to taxes.

              On to your argument that health care is a right. It’s a right if a congress states it’s a right and decides its in its best interest to tax for those purposes. It may not be a right at the same level as say, the right to vote. And its a right that can be taken away, since its not Constitutionally based, it would be statutory. This is similar to the “right” of education. All persons who meet certain qualifications, have the right to attend a public school. If you deny a person that right, there needs to be some due process on how that occurs. Now, there is some valid debate about about the, qualifications to receive those rights, the amount of due process to take away that right, roles of the state v. Federal government, if the Federal Government can force you to buy something from a private individual, etc.

            • loggg says:

              Rights? It’s the money, stupid! Stop casting this as a matter of rights.

              It would cost us all less to have standard health care for everyone. Currently, we force minor health problems to fester and worsen until they’re worthy of emergency treatment. Anyone who complains before that point is reached is just a wimp, a crybaby, an attention seeking, self-deluded faker. Or they deserve their ills, ’cause they used illegal drugs. Costs us 10 times as much to do health that way.

              Would you prefer that we execute people with health problems? We’ll put down people with broken legs, same as we do for horses.

        • PunditGuy says:

          Seems like it promotes the general welfare, which is that bit in the Constitution right after “provide for the common defense.”

          Every civilized society (and some uncivilized ones) has determined that providing health insurance is a societal good. A healthy populace is a productive populace. Hell, your tax dollars right now are helping to pay for universal health care in Iraq. Wrap your noggin’ around that one.

          • partofme says:

            That’s a great argument for why the gov’t can spend tax dollars on health care… but it’s not an argument that health care is a right. Don’t confuse “things I like” or even “good things” with rights. We created a government with the purpose of doing good things for us (provide for the general welfare)… that doesn’t mean that every good thing it could possibly do for us is a right.

            • PunditGuy says:

              Soundbite politics, seeking a distinction without a purpose. Do we have a right to food free of poison? Potable water? Construction materials that are up to some kind of code? Investments with risks that are somewhat transparent?

              • partofme says:

                You have statutory rights to protection when obtaining those types of products. You have no right to demand that someone provide you water, food, construction material, or investments. These protections are good things that we have our gov’t do. Likewise, when you engage in a health care transaction, you have a statutory right that your advice will be loosely in agreement with accepted medical practice and that your prescribed medications will be within some agreed upon tolerances. You don’t have a right for someone to just give you consultations or drugs.

                Of course, the goal of many people is to create a form of such a statutory right… leveraging the mission to provide for the general welfare… but you certainly don’t have it a priori. There are precious few rights which are fundamental enough to be considered a priori rights… and for good reason, they’re all negative rights.

                It is not soundbite politics. It is logic, reason, and foundations of government. As much as it may offend your sensibilities, our fundamental rights are at a much deeper level than things we like (or even physically need). It really saddens me that the distinction needs to be pointed out, as the purpose is rather clear.

                • PunditGuy says:

                  Insurance. Not care. Insurance.

                  Holy crap, This is the best example of mental masturbation I’ve seen in a long time:

                  “You have statutory rights to protection when obtaining those types of products.”

                  No shit. So all we have to do is pass a law that says health care is a right, and then it’s a statutory right? I’ll get right on that.

                  • partofme says:

                    Does your insurance/care produce any meaningful difference?

                    And it’s not mental masturbation at all. It’s simply realizing the difference between fundamental a priori rights and good things we get the gov’t to give us. To declare “I have this right a priori” and then reason, “Now that we’ve given ourselves a statutory right, we must have had it a priori” is circular and obviously erroneous.

                    Lets look at an example to see how this might play out in a different area. We have some notion of a fundamental right to private consensual sex. Thus, Lawrence v. Texas happens. However, there is no reason for us to have an a priori right to some sort of gov’t protections while engaging in a transaction with a prostitute. We could create such a statutory right, by getting the gov’t to give us something we want. We definitely don’t have the right to demand that the gov’t is a priori required to provide us free prostitutes. Of course… we could give ourselves that statutory right, too… but we sure as hell don’t have it a priori.

                    • PunditGuy says:

                      Oh my god. “Does your insurance/care produce any meaningful difference?” Hey pot, it’s kettle. You’re black.

                      So there’s no a priori right to health care. Awesome. Does that distinction produce any meaningful difference?

                      I posit: Health care is a right. I pass a health care law. Health care is now a statutory right.

                      I posit: Health care should be a right. I pass a health care law. Health care is now a statutory right.

                      Your argument is that I can think that health care should be a right, but I can’t think that health care is a right. Well, Mr. Pedantic, you win. I can’t think it’s a right until it actually becomes a right. Congrats.

                      And for the record, yeah — it makes a difference if we’re talking about health care as opposed to health care insurance. The government doesn’t own the means of health care production when it mandates insurance or provides insurance. The doctors don’t work for the government. The equipment and facilities aren’t owned by the government.

                    • partofme says:

                      Pedantic? Hume would probably utilize his statutory right in Florida to shoot you (try to explain how the existence of that statutory right implies an a priori fundamental right). You simply can’t jump from “should” to “is”, and then conclude that something must follow (really, this is kind of a reverse-Hume).

                      It doesn’t really own the health insurance industry either… so there’s still no difference for a discussion of a priori rights. Now, the gov’t can provide us good things (paying for insurance or even directly for care), so long as it acts in manner consistent with its powers (which is why we are all on the edge of our seats for SCOTUS). The worst part is that you’re not even arguing against someone who disagrees with you. I think the gov’t can and probably should help provide health care or insurance in some fashion. But we simply can’t get there by declaring a priori rights out of nowhere and skipping around the Constitution. There is a right way to do things. Do it the right way now so that future governments can’t look back and say, “SEE! They didn’t follow the rules! We don’t have to either!”

                  • partofme says:

                    The important part is that you can’t say, “We have this right, therefore we should create the statute”…. if the statute is the thing creating the right. This isn’t even a politics or law fail… This is a first-order logic fail.

                  • partofme says:

                    And furthermore (because I can’t believe how utterly ridiculous this is)… it seems as though you didn’t read my second paragraph. OF COURSE you can get right on with passing a statutory right. That’s what I said people are trying to do (and I don’t think that’s a bad idea). But you simply don’t have the right a priori… and no amount of mental masturbation (or, really, mental gymnastics… because even most mental masturbation wouldn’t come up with a result this perverse) will convert a statutory right into a fundamental right.

        • Conformist138 says:

          Easy. Take everything we know now about education and a lot of it carries over easily: It is to the greater benefit of the nation as a whole if as many people as possible are educated and healthy. Now, not everyone will require the same level of education for their job and not everyone will require the same level of health care. This suggests that providing certain basic minimums (such as taxes being used to provide a free doctor visit each year, or cover certain tests recommended by public health advisers) is both possible and beneficial. Few people honestly complain about paying for “other people’s kids” to go to school since we understand that we have the benefit of a person able to read, write, do math, etc and that person will be more employable for it.

          People usually point out all the other public projects or agencies that have benefits that not everyone uses exactly equally- roads, libraries, courts, environmental protections and clean-up, research, etc. For some reason, only health care gets separated out as “different” since we can see the individual needs and demands of each person and falsely assume that makes it each person’s individual problem. But sick people who are untreated can get sicker or die, and neither of those options makes a productive member of society. It’s also silly to claim we must help anyone who is in grave danger and in immediate emergency need, but if a poor person leaves a condition until it’s an emergency then it will cost more anyway.

      • Akuma Matata says:

        could you explain how healthcare is a right, and how that right is to be secured without violating the rights of someone else?

        • tsumeone says:

          The same way roads are built. Taxes.

        • kobresia says:

          Can you explain how it benefits a civilized society to allow those without sufficient resources (i.e., a job with benefits) to be denied proactive health care, either explicitly due to a pre-existing condition, or simply because insurance is cost-prohibitive & even the most trivial medical care without health insurance is even more cost-prohibitive?

          I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t count the costs everyone else has to pay when an uninsured person shows-up at the hospital with a life-threatening condition that could’ve been treated early on as a “benefit”. That’s right– the taxpayers who have to support disabled, indigent folks, the insured folks who have to foot the bill for some of the critical care that uninsured receive, the hospitals who can’t refuse emergency care and write off some of the expense and pass the rest along to other patients, we all pay for others to have no insurance.

          The program Obama pushed through Congress balances-out much of this so-called “violation of rights”. Hospitals will still be tending to everyone who needs critical care, but if everyone has access to affordable insurance, they won’t be forced to lose money on quite so many people who are unable to pay. Insurance companies won’t be paying higher rates charged to them by health care providers who are taking money from those who can pay to subsidize those who are uninsured and poor.

          When people can’t be denied affordable insurance even when they’re in need of expensive care, and nobody has the option to decline to carry health insurance because they are healthy, I think we have a workable situation that screws everyone over, but just a little bit. Healthcare is simply something everyone needs sooner or later, and playing games with it just hurts society.

          • Akuma Matata says:

            I don’t have a right to the labor or resources of another person without just compensation. The whole 13th Amendment kinda did away with that.

            “Healthcare is simply something everyone needs sooner or later…”

            So what? You could say the same thing about food, clothing and shelter, yet I don’t have the right to walk into a grocery store or restaurant and take food without paying for it. I don’t have the right to walk into a clothing store and take what I need from the racks, nor the right to walk into a hotel and expect to be given a room.

            • My lawyer made me change my screen name says:

              Except that damn gubbermint just gives out assistance to people who don’t have access to shelter or food. I mean come on! First we help needy get the basic necessities like food and clean water, now they want to give these people access to basic medical care? What is this terrible world we have come to live in?

      • AndroidHumanoid says:

        Im moving to England in a few months. Im really excited. Im a certified radiographer and CT technologist. Ill be leaving a job behind, but Ill be working for the NHS. I wont be getting ridiculous bills in the mail anymore, and I wont have to worry about my insurance screwing me around. I know its really expensive to live there, but I look forward to it. And being with my boyfriend.

    • bomber991 says:

      It’s cool. I just graduated in December with my bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Expected starting pay for mechanical engineernig graduates is $45-60k/yr. I’ve looked for the past 4 months and got offered one job paying $30k/year. I’m taking it :(

  2. Cat says:

    And it’s only going to get worse as insurers raise rates because of the new mandates – “We have to increase our profits…”, and people are forced to choose between food and health insurance. A penalty for not having insurance is cheaper than insurance, and that’s the choice many in the middle class will be forced make.

    The only thing the changes in insurance will do for us is raise rates to unaffordable levels when huge numbers opt out. Let’s hope SCOTUS overturns the mandate for our own good.

    (And yes, I support insurance reform, but this isn’t it – it’s a gift to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, nothing more.)

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Insurance companies never needed a federal mandate to raise rates.

      • Akuma Matata says:

        right, but since the insurance mandate would force people to buy that product, there’d be even less incentive to keep costs down.

        • fortymegafonzies says:

          Not really …if company A raises its prices, people will switch to company B. There’s still competition in the marketplace.

          • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

            How many health insurance carriers does your employer offer you? One? Thought so.

            So much for market pressures.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            “Not really …if company A raises its prices, people will switch to company B. There’s still competition in the marketplace.”

            Kind of like airlines? What’s the first thing that happens when one airline comes up with a new fee?

        • icerabbit says:

          Competition? What competition?

          We have one major vendor in our state of one million people.

          Never mind that you can’t just jump health insurance like car insurance due to a variety of gotchas like what your current deductible status is, your new insurance won’t pay till you reach your new deductible, or they won’t pay for 6 months, won’t cover xyz because that would be pre-existing the new policy, …

    • incident_man says:

      single-payer was our only hope for comprehensive reform. But nooooooo, we couldn’t have that now could we. That would be too much dag gum gubmint SOCIALISM!!!1111!!

      • Cat says:

        My vote was based on it.

        • LabGnome says:

          My attitude has generally been we just need to pick a fully private single payer system (capitalistic model) or a socialist model (like well, everyone else).

          Right now, as well as before the reform we pretty much just had the worst features of both systems with few of the best features.

          • kobresia says:

            That’s an excellent summary, but I think the real value in the current “make nearly everyone unhappy over how unfair it is” system is a foot in the door. Obama didn’t get the ideal, but he did get enough of the important things that the public really, really want passed, and put them on a timetable that get them to the people.

            It’s going to be very, very hard to take away things, such as being entitled to coverage for pre-existing conditions, or keeping adult offspring on the parents’ policy. Many people will be upset and hopefully all the things that are broken or stupid will be repaired, via a halfway sane single-payer system.

    • wootbot says:

      Yup. Right now we’re #1 in cost and #37 in results. We’re getting an incredibly bad deal out of this system.

      You don’t even need to go the UK route to vastly improve on where we are now. France scores best out of all large, developed countries in healthcare and their system has mostly private hospitals. The only difference between them and us is that they have a single-payer (i.e. government funded) system that cuts insurance companies and the associated overhead and administrivia out of the picture.

      We could easily transition to that if enough people make enough noise about it.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Finally, i’m no longer part of the 99%, now i’m part of the 26%.

    Cue the Jeffersons theme song:

    Well we’re movin on up,
    To the east side.
    To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
    Movin on up,
    To the east side.
    We finally got a piece of the pie.

    • bjcolby15 says:

      @ Blueskylaw: I never was part of any group that represented itself by a percentage sign. Can you imagine dragging that sucker around during protests?

  4. ellmar says:

    I’ve had no health coverage since January of 2007. I work part-time at a non-profit and my paltry wages are deemed too high to qualify for Arizona’s state sponsored health insurance plan. Needless to say I can’t afford individual coverage.

    • Southern says:

      Try the Free/Low Cost Health Clinic Finder – you might find a free clinic in your area.. supposedly there’s like 10,000 of them around the US.


    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “Needless to say I can’t afford individual coverage. “

      Have you priced out major medical or HDHP policies?

      We were in a similar situation (our rates were increased to $1,200/month) and wound up switching to a HDHP with a $10,000 deductible. By bumping our deductible up by $5,000, we were able to lower premium by $10,000.

  5. goodcow says:

    So I work for the government and have health insurance, but if I didn’t, I imagine I’d just walk into the ER every time and refuse to give a valid name or social security number. They have to treat you, don’t they? Sure it passes costs along to the insured, but the system is so beyond broken that if everyone did this, wouldn’t it crash and we’d finally get universal healthcare?

  6. IrwinJacobs says:

    Thanks to the influence of the insurance industry, the public debate went awry from the very first second when the question was “how can we help all Americans afford healthcare coverage?” instead of “how can we help all Americans afford healthcare?”

    Framing the public debate to ensure that the goal became the acquisition of an intermediate product (insurance) instead of addressing the factors that are causing skyrocketing healthcare costs, was a brilliant coup by the insurance industry and a testament to their power in this country.

    • Cat says:

      Most important observation made today.

    • nishioka says:

      Nailed it. We spend more on health care per capita than any other nation in the OECD. Why? Because we think the “free market” ought to dictate that an MRI costs over $1000, while Japanese government goes “fuck you, if you charge more than $160 for that MRI, you’re not getting reimbursed for it”.

      • Akuma Matata says:

        Wrong… we don’t have anything close to a “free market” when it comes to healthcare. Not when 50% of all healthcare spending is spent by the gov’t. Not when the gov’t (in this case state gov) tells where where I can buy my insurance from (only w/i state lines) and what kind of cov’g I must by (minimum covg mandates).

        • nishioka says:

          > Not when the gov’t (in this case state gov) tells where where I can buy my insurance from (only w/i state lines) and what kind of cov’g I must by (minimum covg mandates).

          Here’s what the CBO thinks of your idea.


          (Hint: begins with “M”, ends with “eh”, and nothing in between.)

          Ever wonder why all the credit card companies are in Delaware, or how they all happened to have headquarters there? Because all of them gravitate to the state with the most permissive, most corporate-friendly laws possible. You do that to health care, and it will no longer be a matter of somebody in Georgia being able to choose plans from insurance companies based in New Hampshire or California or wherever else. It will be a matter of everybody buying insurance from a cartel based in one state, following one state’s rules.

          That is not an improvement.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            It would be an improvement for those living in states with the highest health insurance costs.

            I’m really not a fan of the fact that a family PPO in my state starts at about $20,000/year. I’d much rather have access to a Colorado plan for half of that amount.

            • nishioka says:

              > It would be an improvement for those living in states with the highest health insurance costs.

              And it would be a race to the bottom for everyone else, which is why it’s a stupid idea.

              The reason people need health insurance in the first place is that the base cost of health care has grown wildly out of control. There is no reason medical procedures should cost 3-10x as much here as they do in other fully-developed countries, and it’s sad that we’ve had so many opportunities to fix this problem over the years and have chosen not to.

              • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

                In my family’s situation, it’s pretty crappy that we have to pay a 50% surcharge on insurance, simply because we live on the wrong side of a bridge. Hell, I’d kill just for access to an Ohio insurance policy and their community rates.

              • Akuma Matata says:

                “The reason people need health insurance in the first place is that the base cost of health care has grown wildly out of control. There is no reason medical procedures should cost 3-10x as much here as they do in other fully-developed countries, “

                Have you ever considered that the reason medical care is so expensive is *because* of insurance, and not in spite of it?

        • cromartie says:

          I look forward to the day, and it is coming soon, when people like you are dragged by your feet into the street by the starving masses, hoisted on your own petard and beaten to death for being so incredibly obtuse that you would willingly sacrifice the health and well being of your own fellow citizens by some sort of abstract economic ideal.

          • Akuma Matata says:

            The choice isn’t between gov’t-run healthcare and people dying in the streets. Nice try though.

        • cromartie says:

          I look forward to the day, and it is coming soon, when people like you are dragged by your feet into the street by the starving masses, hoisted on your own petard and beaten to death for being so incredibly obtuse that you would willingly sacrifice the health and well being of your own fellow citizens for some sort of abstract economic ideal.

          • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

            I didn’t know I looked forward to it, but since you described it, I realized that I do, in fact, look forward to it as well.

          • Talmonis says:

            Seriously, Republicans, libertarians and any other “right” organization don’t get that. They seem to think that the Democrats (who are JUST as capitalist as they are, they’re just not so bloody stupid) are Socialists. This is wrong. Democrats like programs that provide basic needs for the masses for a reason. They don’t do this out of the kindness of their greedy little hearts, they do it because they know what will happen when large numbers of hungry, angry people begin taking to the streets. It’s called self-preservation folks. Democrats are just smart enough to figure it out.

        • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

          You’re an asshole, admit it.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Excellent point! My dentist says it cost so much to deal with the insurance companies that she’s threatening to dump all of them and charge reasonable rates instead to everyone.

    • Akuma Matata says:

      And the way you make healthcare more affordable here is to actually make it more like a free market with less gov’t intrusion. Unfortunately many people have this false notion that healthcare is some kind of ultra-unique item, that there’s absolutely nothing like it (apparently they don’t eat or have a roof over their heads)

      • RandomHookup says:

        It is unique. Everyone will need it, but not at the same levels and sometimes not for extremely long periods of time. Some people will require almost continuous, expensive care while others will require minimal care. You can’t always plan when you will need it and the lack of proper coverage drives people into bankruptcy.

        • partofme says:

          The problem with the arguments from uniqueness is that the definitions of unique change and there aren’t good reasons to say they’re relevant for any particular problem. You can elucidate a set of criteria to show that essentially anything is unique, but is that distinction relevant when you’re asking if it’s constitutional? Is it relevant when you’re asking if it’s prudent public policy? Some work needs to be done between “look at this unique thing” and “we can/should do that”.

        • ARP says:

          I would also add that there are often times when comparison shopping is difficult, if not impossible.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Free market lovers: someone tell me what “market failure” means. Anyone who took a basic economics class should understand the concept of market failure- where a free market is unable to regulate itself to socially optimal levels. A good example is education. It used to be that education was mostly free-market. Either a community would form a school and some kids would go when they could, or rich children would get a more formal and complete education. But the social optimum level of educated persons was much higher than the level given by the free market. We benefit as a whole when market failure is corrected.

        And taking it one step doesn’t mean going crazy with it. We still ask people to pay (or repay) the cost of higher education because it is assumed that education above the minimum will result in income above the minimum, thus the person receiving the education gains more personally and owes more for it.

        But health care is different- like education, we know it benefits us all if more of us are healthy rather than sick, but unlike education we can’t tie a need for health care to a higher income. In theory, a doctorate provides a person with an edge in terms of earning potential, but the opposite happens with health care since a person with cancer is more likely to have less earning power than a healthy person.

        So, yes, health care is unique. With different levels of income, different types of housing is available, but there isn’t nearly the same variety of price options when it comes to chemotherapy or other major medical costs. Sure, richer people can pay more for more luxury, but the minimum costs are still out of reach of too many people, resulting in (bring it around, just like The Word) market failure.

        • nishioka says:

          > bring it around, just like The Word

          I think you mean… The W√∏rd ;)

        • Akuma Matata says:

          “where a free market is unable to regulate itself to socially optimal levels”

          In economic terms, a market failure is a situation in which 1 party’s outcome can be improved without worsening the outcome of another. I’m not sure where you got your definition from. I don’t see how taxing person A to pay for the care consumed by person B doesn’t make person A worse off.

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:


  7. oldwiz65 says:

    But don’t the Republicans say that we do not need and cannot afford Universal HealthCare? Romney in particular wants to get rid of it.

  8. Akuma Matata says:

    This is caused by a stupid gov’t policy which favors employer-purchased care and restricts the purchase of insurance across state lines (ironically something that the federal gov’t should be allowing under the commerce clause)

    • partofme says:

      Recalling what I remember from Raich, eliminating a product from the interstate market is unquestionably within the purview of the Commerce Clause. In that case, they then had to invoke the Necessary and Proper Clause to say that in order to eliminate physical products from the interstate market, the gov’t could ban intrastate possession. Of course, that second part wouldn’t come into this question, and we’re just left with the unquestioned authority to ban purchasing of insurance across state lines.

      • Mark702 says:

        Nope, that’s un-Constitutional.

        • partofme says:

          …got any Commerce Clause case history to support your assertion? Maybe something more recent than Raich? ….have you ever read Raich?

        • partofme says:

          I’ll add in a choice quote from it which includes references to established case law well before Wickard:

          In the CSA, Congress has undertaken to extinguish the interstate market in Schedule I controlled substances, including marijuana. The Commerce Clause unquestionably permits this. The power to regulate interstate commerce “extends not only to those regulations which aid, foster and protect the commerce, but embraces those which prohibit it.” Darby, 312 U.S., at 113. See also Hipolite Egg Co. v. United States, 220 U.S. 45, 58 (1911); Lottery Case, 188 U.S. 321, 354 (1903).

  9. psychic_acid says:

    I’m in that group. Have been working two part-time jobs trying to get full time but unable to since leaving medical school nearly a year ago. I was denied Cobra insurance due to pre-existing conditions. I talked w/ my doctor and my therapist and they were able to work out a payment plan so I’m basically paying what I would be if I could still be on my folk’s insurance. The only problem is that it isn’t going towards any deductible so I’m still paying nearly $100 a visit. It still ends up much cheaper than any other option available to me. If some catastrophe happens to me, no idea what will happen because I don’t have the money to pay for any significant medical bills due to student loans…

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “Have been working two part-time jobs trying to get full time but unable to since leaving medical school nearly a year ago. I was denied Cobra insurance due to pre-existing conditions. “

      COBRA doesn’t work like that. The whole point of it is that it has to abide by the same laws that regulate group policies. If you are eligible for your employer-sponsored plan, you will be eligible for COBRA.

      • psychic_acid says:

        The Cobra denial was after losing my parents’ insurance when I turned 26, not from my jobs. I could have been much more clear there.

  10. TasteyCat says:

    Assuming for a moment I did not have good reasonably priced employer provided insurance, given the choice between health coverage or no health coverage, I’d take no coverage. In the event of a major emergency, you’re screwed either way. You can mandate it all you want, but if you fail to make it affordable first, your plan is a failure regardless.

  11. LabGnome says:

    When I think of how much my employers have to pay for my insurance I think to myself, it would be really nice to just have that money instead. It would be like an instant doubling of my salary.

    I am in good health though and young.

    • sjackson12 says:

      And what happens if something serious comes up? You are in a car accident, find out you have cancer, etc. etc. Those bills can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  12. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    And COBRA is a joke. COBRA rates for health insurance where I work exceed the amount of unemployment I would bring in if I were to be laid off. So, technically, they are operating within the law by offering COBRA. In reality, it’s so expensive, and the rates exceed total unemployment benefits for the month, so it’s not even an option. Unlike the government, people who are laid off can’t print more money to cover their shortfalls.

    Well, they could I guess, but then there’s that pesky Secret Service to deal with, and probably paying bills with counterfeit money isn’t such a hot idea.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Well, it’s really dependent upon the coverage the company already offers. If they offer an expensive plan, they have to offer that coverage (and nothing else) through COBRA and can add I think it’s 5% to the cost of the plan. If it’s that expensive, you have to seek a private plan.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Yeah, exactly. Exjob offered me COBRA when they laid me off, and I laughed. I turned it down without even looking at it.

      Lucky for me, my doctor’s office has a program for low-income people that only charges $10 for an office visit or lab. It doesn’t cover anything BUT that, but it’s better than nothing and if I need to see my doctor, I still can. I hope I find a job soon though, because the unemployment extension has been eliminated in Missouri. *facepalm*

  13. alternety says:

    Eliminate the insurance companies. Touch up Medicare to be a national health care. Part of that would be getting religious issues out of health care. If someone needs or wants treatment it is not the pervue of a your religion to decide they can’t have it. That is why it is called freedom OF religion not freedom of YOUR religion.

    If you have money, buy more services on your own if you want. Buy drugs privately. Go out of the country (like Mexico or Haiti).

    Net result: Billions cut out of useless “health care” costs. No decrease in service to consumers. Vast reduction in paperwork and payment delays. Not fined for not being able to afford health care insurance (a really stupid idea), stops hospitals from hemorrhaging money to cover costs of uncovered people in the emergency room and inpatient care, distribute costs across entire population (kind of what “insurance” is supposed to do, preventive care now available to all hence lower cost for treating the results of no preventive care.

    I have dealt with two national healthcare systems (twice for each one). In each case there was far less hassle than here, easy access (waiting time much less than in US), get to treatment without the half hour of screwing around with “insurance” verification. Quality was excellent. In one case the doctor came to my hotel.

    Argument from the crazies; they don’t want the government dictating what care they get. Which insurance company have you found that is not already the worst case on denial of service?

  14. az123 says:

    The problem most people have is wanting to always have high end first dollar coverage. I have always had insurance, even when not working and never paid excessive amounts for it. When I was not working right out of school or had jobs without coverage I got a private coverage with at $2K annual deductible. Being young and healthy does make that more practical, but I had coverage in case something major ever came up and realistically I could get my hands on $2K if needed. that cost me on the order of $125 a month to have the insurance in case something major happened.

    Yes if I went to the doctor for a checkup or illness I had to pay out of pocket, a lot of times I would just tell them I was not insured and would only end up paying $50 or less for a visit… lab work was the only potentially higher expense, but if they think you are not insured they tend to be more sensible about that too.

    Far too many people want that same coverage they had working for a big company all the time, yes it is better but practicality and being able to cover major illness is the meat and other things on top of that are the gravy.

    Too many people want the high end everything and forget to look for that yugo sitting in the corner that will get the job done

    • VintageLydia says:

      In some states that really isn’t an option. And as you said, you’re young and healthy. You’re cheap to insure. All these boomers who were laid off in this job market but too young for Medicare? Not so much. Married? Have kids? You will never find coverage that cheap in ANY state.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Essentially, there are two types of insurance and there’s no escaping it:

        1) High premium, low deductible; OR
        2) Low premium, high deductible.

        We’re paying about $400/month for a $10,000 deductible. Before that, we were paying $1,000/month for a $5,000. Unless a 3rd party is subsidizing premiums, there’s no getting around it. We recently received quotes for a traditional PPO with a $1,250 deductible for $1,600/month.

        The OP is absolutely correct — First dollar coverages are added directly to premiums. $5 or $10 co-pays don’t save anyone money.

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      No, people want health care, period. Health care began to outstrip affordability so insurance came into the picture. Health insurance effed up the market. Now health care isn’t affordable for the vast majority of normal 99%ers.

      It’s a system that’s been broken by the greed of the health insurance companies and lobbies.

      I say we string em all up.

  15. Nobby says:

    The 26% without medical insurance were probably Democrats, so what’s the friggin problem? OR, the maybe 26% were Republicans who made deliberate business decisions not to have coverage, in which case they are Great Americans. Again, what’s the friggin problem?

  16. crazydavythe1st says:

    But people don’t have a right to health care. They have a right to die or end up in a financially ruinous situation if they actually want to get better because I’m better than them.

    I don’t want to pay one damn penny toward these “peoples” healthcare, even if widening the insurance base will offset much of the additional cost..

    So yeah, let em’ die. Social Darwinism FTW.

    Oh yeah, I *best* be able to get subsidized health insurance if I lose my job…


  17. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:


  18. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Okay, since there’s essentially two camps here let’s divide the country up. We’ll take the West Coast states, everything New York and above, Austin, TX and Madison, WI. Then you social Darwinists and Jesusmongers can have everything else, k?

  19. ganon446 says:

    Before Obama care I could buy my own options but seeing Obamacare is raised the rates on everything across the board I no longer can afford insurance and since I am not a woman or an minority when I go down to get the Public Aide insurance I get harassed and denied.

    Since I am not a single mom with kids I cannot also get All Kids

    • ARP says:

      What do you specifically not like about Obamacare?

      1) At least 80% of premiums must be used for health care
      2) No denial for pre-existing conditions
      3) Children can be on plan until 26
      4) (most likely) Must obtain insurance or pay a fine.

    • nishioka says:

      > Obamacare is raised the rates on everything

      News flash, the rates were going up anyway. The hallmark of “RomneyCare” is that health insurance rates increased slower than the nation as a whole. If you’re going to pin your current lack of health care coverage on “Obamacare”, the least you can do is also admit that the conservative brain drain in this country is directly responsible for the environment that made “Obamacare” the only way to get any sort of health care reform passed through in the first place.

      If people would shut up for five minutes about socialism and tyranny, like being taxed to build roads and fund the military aren’t the exact same thing, we’d get some things done around here.

  20. LabanDenter says:

    So what this study is saying is that most people are too cheap to pay for insurance, and want someone else to pay for them.

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      Since you sound like someone who is a “job creator” why not create some jobs, hire some folks and let them pay for it?

  21. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    So basically if you have health insurance it’s too expensive to maintain and you go bankrupt with premiums and deductables OR you don’t have health insurance and a visit to the hospital will bankrupt you. Either way you’re bankrupt.

    Probably best just to pay cash for doctor’s visits and shots and then show up to the emergency room when anything else happens and just ignore the bills. If everyone did this the system would finally implode and we’d have to come up with a new one, which is what’s needed at this point.

    Obamacare would have fixed things if he hadn’t allowed the insurance and pharm companies write it for him.

    The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Yeah, pretty much.

      If your health insurance runs $1,600/month (national average just broke $20,000/year for a family), good luck paying premiums if you miss work because you are in the hospital.

      We’re pretty happy with our HDHP policy. We pay for virtually everything out-of-pocket because the deductible is $10,000 but at least the premiums are affordable, and it lets us pay the BC/BS network rates for care. If I were hospitalized, we could at least afford to keep up on our premiums.

      Our previous insurance was just bumped up to $1,200/month and still had a $5,000 deductible. We had to take out a second mortgage last year when my wife was hospitalized, just to cover premiums.

    • Kuri says:

      Actually, healthcare giants paid his opponents to roadblock on absolutely everything until reform was all but worthless

  22. icerabbit says:

    That’s a shockingly high number, but not surprising, really.

    Now add to that number, the number of under-insured working adults, and everybody should understand why we really do need health care reform ASAP.

    In our state, for two healthy adults, you are now looking at 20 grand for a typical coverage private insurance policy.

    Next month, our private policy (which sounds luxurious and loaded with benefits, doesn’t it) with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield which has a (here’s the kicker) a $5k deductible per person per year (!) jumps from $1060+/mo to $1250+/mo.

    That’s right. It already rose > $1k/month two years ago, and up to $1060 last year and now just has a casual jump of another $200/mo.

    A few years ago it was only $500-600. Now it is double that and amounts to 15 grand.

    Mind you, that this also means $15000 + $5000 = $20000 Out Of Pocket before they pay out any benefit to family member one. $25000 before benefits kick in for family member two.


    Yeah, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the health care industry and health care insurance in the USA … when people spend the wages of several people in industrialized nations for just catastrophic coverage insurance.