Michael Moore was wrong about health insurance.
So were President Bush, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), presidential candidates former Sen. John Edwards and Gov. Mike Huckabee and The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, People magazine and Time magazine, as well as CNN, CBS and ABC.
Each of these people and media outlets incorrectly claimed the number of uninsured to be 40 to 50 million Americans. The actual total is open to debate. But there are millions of people who should be excluded from that tally, including: those who aren’t American citizens, people who can afford their own insurance, and people who already qualify for government coverage but haven’t signed up.
Government statistics also show 45 percent of those without insurance will have insurance again within four months after job transitions.
Accounting for all those factors, one prominent study places the total for the long-term uninsured as low as 8.2 million - a very different reality than the media and national health care advocates claim.
Breaking It Down: Who’s Uninsured?
The number of the uninsured who aren’t citizens is nearly 10 million on its own, invalidating all the claims of 40+ million “Americans” without health insurance.
“It’s really indefensible that we now have more than 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million of whom are children, and the vast majority of whom are from working families,” said Sen. Hillary Clinton in a May 31 speech.
It was typical spin and easy to find. ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson cited the incorrect data as he praised a "bold" and "politically brilliant" universal coverage plan on the April 26 “Good Morning America.”
“It’s bold because it does propose to cover all Americans, including the 47 million now who are uninsured, within five years,” said Johnson.
In his propagandumentary “SiCKO” that favored the socialist health care systems of Canada, Britain, France and Cuba, Michael Moore made the fantastic claim that almost 50 million Americans are uninsured.
“SiCKO: There are nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance,” quoted Moore’s Web site.
However, the Census Bureau report “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005,” puts the initial number of uninsured people living in the country at 46.577 million.
A closer look at that report reveals the Census data include 9.487 million people who are “not a citizen.” Subtracting the 10 million non-Americans, the number of uninsured Americans falls to roughly 37 million.
Moore should have paid attention to that fact, since he agrees that being “an American” matters to get health insurance.
“That’s the only preexisting condition that should exist. I am an American. That’s it,” said Moore in footage aired by ABC’s “Nightline” on June 13.
That isn’t the only problem with the numbers currently being used.
Moore’s Trouble with the Facts
Recently, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta accused Michael Moore of “fudging” some numbers in his recent film “SiCKO.” This sparked a temper tantrum by Moore who threatened to become the network’s “worst nightmare” if they didn’t apologize and recant.
CNN did “correct and apologize” for one transcription error, but stood by Gupta’s statement “CNN’s numbers and Moore’s numbers aren’t far off, but we believe ours are a fairer comparison.”
In his film and television appearances, Moore left out quite a bit of information about the uninsured.
On his Web site, Moore claimed the Census Bureau had “underreported” the number of people without health insurance.
But Cheryl Hill Lee, a co-author of the Census Bureau study Moore was citing, told the Business & Media Institute that the data showed the exact opposite of what Moore said.
The Census “underreported” the number of people covered by health insurance - meaning that more people have insurance than the report suggests. The Census also underreported the number of people covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
They Can’t Afford Insurance …
Many of the same people pushing the incorrect numbers of uninsured Americans also claim that these people cannot “afford” insurance.
“And when you’ve got 47 million people in this country with no health insurance, they don’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford it,” Moore said on CNN’s “Larry King Live” July 10.
Katie Couric echoed those sentiment on the CBS “Evening News” May 23.
“The number of Americans with no health insurance is continuing to grow as more and more employers say they can’t afford to offer group insurance … People who try to buy insurance on their own often find the price beyond their reach,” said Couric as she introduced a two-part “investigation of the health insurance industry.”
But according to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326.
On the July 13 “Larry King Live,” Gupta did make that point, providing more context than Moore and most journalists about the affordability of health insurance.
Subtracting non-citizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it, about 20 million people are left - less than 7 percent of the population.
“Many Americans are uninsured by choice,” wrote Dr. David Gratzer in his book “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care.” Gratzer cited a study of the “nonpoor uninsured” from the California Healthcare Foundation.
“Why the lack of insurance [among people who own homes and computers]? One clue is that 60 percent reported being in excellent health or very good health,” explained Gratzer.
A Lie that Promotes Big Government
Moore, Clinton and Obama have used the lie about 40-some million uninsured Americans to promote universal health insurance plans. Moore asserted in his film that providing health insurance to everyone is a moral and even religious obligation.
The mainstream media have played along, championing “ambitious” universal coverage plans and referring to the U.S. system as “deeply flawed.”
“California’s ambitious plan to make health insurance available to almost everyone in the state is getting a lot of attention all over the country, and here’s why. According to the latest figures, the number of uninsured Americans has grown to more than 46 million,” said Katie Couric on the “CBS Evening News” January 9.
Journalists’ failure to question that high figure has furthered the cause of nationalized care.
“Proponents of universal health care often use the 46-million figure -- without context or qualification. It creates the false impression that a huge percentage of the population has fallen through the cracks,” Gratzer told BMI. “Again, that’s not to suggest that there is no problem, but it's very different than the universal-care crowd describes.”
Dr. Grace-Marie Turner, a BMI adviser and president of the Galen Institute, agreed that “the number [on uninsured] is inflated and affects the debate.”
Turner also pointed out that “45 percent of the uninsured are going to have insurance within four months [according to the Congressional Budget Office],” because many are transitioning between jobs and most people get health insurance through their employers.
So what is the true extent of the uninsured “crisis?” The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report.
Kaiser’s 8.2 million figure for the chronically uninsured only includes those uninsured for two years or more. It is also worth noting, that, 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Related Links from BMI:
The Facts about Michael Moore
Moore Blitzes Blitzer, Demands Apology from CNN
CNN’s Gupta Battles Moore about ‘SiCKO’ Stats
Moore Continues Publicity-Seeking Jihad against CNN
MSNBC’s Olbermann Gives Thanks to Michael Moore
Enough Gushing over Moore to Make You ‘SiCKO’
Review: ‘SiCKO’ Doesn’t Offer Cure-All for Health Care