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David Henderson has me on this (Well, the second half of that post. The first half we could argue about). I've been restating the claim that every year, we throw about 2 million people off the rolls of the insured, ever since an expert made that argument to me in an interview. But I never checked the data myself. Henderson did, and finds that in the last eight years, it's been more like a million a year. Mea culpa.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 23, 2009; 6:03 PM ET
 
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Comments

Ezra, I was thinking about the "trillion dollars in ten years" thing in the car today. It occurred to me that we're going to be spending more even if we do nothing, so when how long will it take us to spend that trillion just through out of control health care costs?

Posted by: MosBen | June 23, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

And as a percentage of the total population it hasn't really changed at all.

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | June 23, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, how could you miss this from Henderson: "Moreover, the percent of people without health insurance has stayed about constant since 1993."

Fascinating that you would ignore that.

What do you think of the idea of deregulating insurance to the point that we could offer catastrophic care plans?

We don't call it rationing when someone eats at McDonald's instead of Mortons. Low cost care options are emerging as a market of consumers looking to keep their health costs low (since it's their money) are looking to save money. This is opposed to those in health plans who are in many cases looking to maximize the amount of other people's money that is spent on them.

Posted by: staticvars | June 23, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Staticvars: And how could you miss this from Henderson: "the number of American residents without health insurance has risen from about 39 million to 46 million over the last 8 years, an increase of less than 1 million per year"

So the number is up, but percent has stayed roughly the same. If you're one of the 46 million uninsured, that's a great consolation. The high number of uninsured was the big issue driving the '93 attempt at reform. Now we have that plus much much higher costs for those that do have coverage.

Posted by: jeirvine | June 24, 2009 3:18 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the relevance of the percentile measure here. I'm saying more people are uninsured every single year (even, incidentally, as the country grows richer, and incomes theoretically rise). He's not disagreeing with that. Sometimes it's wise to measure things as a percentage of a whole. But if a million more people are uninsured this year than last year, saying that nothing has changed is rather inane.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | June 24, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

You stated that we kick people off of insurance every year. It's a dynamic system, with millions added and millions subtracted each year, but it is simply not the case that people are losing insurance on the whole because the system is getting worse or something like that. Clearly, more people gain insurance each year than lose it.
If the ranks of the uninsured are growing only because the country is growing, doesn't that mean that you are fundamentally wrong?
We definitely need reform, but I think you need to rethink your evaluation of where we've gone wrong and what needs to be done.

Posted by: robertsimmons78 | June 24, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

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