By this stage in the health care debates, most people are aware that roughly 47 million individuals in America do not have health insurance. And many people are further aware that the 47 million statistic is misleading, because roughly 14 million of these individuals are already eligible for (but have not enrolled in) existing government programs, 9 million have incomes over $75,000 and choose not to purchase private insurance, 3-5 million are only temporarily uninsured between jobs, and roughly 10 million do not have the legal right to reside in the country. In the end, this means roughly 10 million U.S. citizens lack meaningful access to health insurance. It has been noted elsewhere that insuring these individuals would cost a lot less than the $1 trillion proposal currently under consideration in Congress, and further that it would not require a dramatic (and costly) restructuring of the U.S. health care system.
I understand and share a number of the concerns expressed here and elsewhere about the current health care proposals, but my sense is that many of our contributors and readers would object even to a more modest expansion of publicly-sponsored health care for the ten million who are chronically uninsured. I think this position is in tension with the most recent statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which teaches that “health care is not a privilege, but a basic human right,” and lists the following guideline considerations for health care reform:
1) a truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity; 2) access for all with a special concern for the poor; 3) pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism, including freedom of conscience and variety of options; and 4) restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.
My question for our readers and contributors, assuming I am reading them correctly, is 1) Whether they support expanded public health care for the ten million who are chronically uninsured, and 2) If not, how they hope to achieve the goal of universal coverage called for by the bishops absent government intervention.