Uninsured in Montana

Uninsured in

Another View


Tom Burnett

169 Meadow Brook Lane

Belgrade, MT 59714

The study of the uninsured
is now complete. It is thorough and professional. My response to
items in the Executive Summary is below. Quotes from the Summary are
in italics. My observations are in regular type-face.


Young adults,
particularly between the ages of 19 and 25, were more than twice as
likely to be uninsured than the general population.
(Page 4).

Young adults take an
informed risk. Their chance of catastrophic expenses is low compared
with the middle-aged and golden-agers. This should trigger no alarm.

Montana’s American
Indian populations experience uninsurance at much higher rates that
were two times higher than the statewide average and represented
about 24,000 American Indians within the 173,000 Montanans without
health insurance.
(Page 4).

Most American Indians who
choose uninsurance, do so because they have copious benefits through
IHS. They are not exactly uninsured.

A profile of Montana’s
uninsured shows that they:

Are employed (77%).
(Page 4).

Therefore, 23% are
unemployed. Unemployment is a gateway to uninsurance. Lack of work
causes neediness in health care and other areas of personal wealth.

Being uninsured is not
voluntary with 90 percent of the uninsured reporting being unable to
buy health insurance after paying for food, clothing, and shelter.

(Page 5). Are Montana’s Uninsured forced because of cost,
or do they choose to be uninsured?
(Page 24)

Being uninsured is
largely voluntary, a matter of personal budget priorities. Of course
people will say they “can’t afford insurance”, if asked. They
will say the same about saving, investing, or affording college
tuition. By shifting their priorities, and working more, even low
earners can afford health insurance. Many of the uninsured maintain
four wheelers, new pickups, snowmobiles, horses, high speed internet
connections, or premium cable services. Some spend enough on dog
grooming and pet food to pay half of a premium. I know the uninsured
who do.

Montana’s uninsured
did have coverage in the past with only 20 percent reporting no
previous health insurance.
(Page 5)

People go in and out of
insurance, a simple fact, calling for little lamentation. There are
only 20% of 173,000 chronically uninsured, or 34,000. This could be
mostly the American Indian population, who have medical care.


Please be careful when
studying these findings. The policy changes they suggest are far from
clear. Personally, I do not find in them a reason to raise taxes,
form new programs, or increase subsidies in existing programs.


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