EDITORIAL: Increase in number of uninsured folks in America should outrage all of us
- The number of uninsured in the United States rose by 1.9 million people in 2018.
- It was the first jump in nearly a decade.
- An estimated 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the population, lacked coverage.
This should not be happening. Not in this economy. Not in this age. Not in this country.
Still, it is happening.
Last week, the Census Bureau reported an increase in the number of people without health insurance in America. According to the agency, the number of uninsured in the United States rose by 1.9 million people in 2018. It was the first jump in nearly a decade.
An estimated 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the population, lacked coverage the entire year.
Those kinds of statistics should send us all into a fit of outrage and embarrassment, especially in an advanced nation with an economy that — according to President Donald Trump — is absolutely booming.
Yet, for a large swath of America, the report was largely met with yawns. Nearly all of those yawners are fortunate enough to be in the 90-plus percent with some form of health insurance.
The feeling among many is: “We have our insurance, why should we worry about anyone else?”
Well, we should worry because caring about our neighbors is the decent thing to do. We should not sit idly by while they suffer.
Immigration crackdown likely a factor: Even more troubling, the new numbers suggest that fears of the Trump administration’s infamous immigration crackdown may be a significant factor in the slippage in coverage.
The report showed that a drop in low-income people enrolled in Medicaid was the most significant factor behind the higher number of uninsured people. Hispanics were the only major racial and ethnic category with a significant increase in their uninsured rate. It rose by 1.6 percentage points in 2018, with nearly 18% lacking coverage. There was no significant change in health insurance for non-Hispanic whites, blacks and Asians.
“Some of the biggest declines in coverage are coming among Latinos and noncitizens,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, who tracks trends in health insurance coverage. “These declines in coverage are coming at a time when the Trump administration has tried to curb immigration and discourage immigrants from using public benefits like Medicaid.”
Frank noted that immigrant families often include foreign-born and native-born relatives, “and you can imagine the new approach to immigration inhibiting these people from doing things that would make them more visible to public authorities,” such as applying for government health care programs.
In simple terms, many Hispancis are just plain scared, whether they’re here legally or illegally.
Many not bothered by the news: This will not bother many Trump supporters, who see undocumented immigrants as a plague upon this nation who must be expunged. In their minds, they should not receive any benefits of any kind at any time, regardless of their need.
If they suffer, or even die, because they don’t have access to health insurance or health care, so be it. After all, they shouldn’t be here in the first place.
It doesn’t matter to them that many undocumented immigrants are children who had no choice in coming to this country.
It doesn’t matter that adult undocumented immigrants are also human beings, who deserve simple human compassion.
It also doesn’t matter that a large majority of Hispanics in this nation are here legally, just doing their best to earn their livelihoods and raise their families.
Undermining Obamacare: Trump, since becoming president, has also tried his best to first destroy, and now, completely undermine Obamacare.
It doesn’t matter that Obamacare, while far from a perfect instrument, was largely responsible for reducing the number of uninsured Americans over the past decade.
Trump doesn't care about the progress that was being made. He just wanted to dismantle a program that was named after his despised predecessor.
So that’s how we ended up here, with nearly 2 million additional uninsured folks in America in 2018.
We should be outraged. We should be embarrassed.
Instead, we simply yawn and move on.