obama-healthcare.jpg
EPA/SHAWN THEW

US President Barack Obama delivers opening remarks at a bipartisan meeting to discuss health reform legislation at the Blair House in Washington, DC USA 25 February 2010.

Renewed debate is imminent about so-called “ObamaCare” {a term used by some as a pejorative for health care}. It’s a good time for a refresher of how we got to where we are, with the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama hosted a televised health care summit with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in efforts to craft healthcare overhaul legislation.

Just before this summit, email messages from Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, began arriving in my Inbox, as a subscriber to the White House mailing list. These brief, targeted messages represent an innovative campaign for public awareness of health care reform ? each based upon numbers. I believe this is an effective method in articulating the urgent need for health care reform, and I wonder whether current public opinion would be different had a ?by the numbers? approach been used a year ago.

Something curious ? reference to the ?Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? (HR 3590) and the ??Affordable Health Care for America Act?? (HR 3962) bills has evolved from ?health care reform? (some say ?health insurance reform?) to the currently used ?health reform?.

So far, the featured numbers are ?1,115?, ?8?, ?625?, ?41?, ?1?, and ?50/50?, representing the following points:

?1,115?


? $1,115 ? that?s the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage per month in 2009. Annually, that amounts to $13,375 ? or roughly the yearly income of someone working a minimum wage job. (Source)

“8”


? 8 — The number of people every minute who are denied coverage, charged a higher rate, or otherwise discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. [Source: HealthReform.gov]
? 8 — The number of lobbyists hired by special interests to influence health reform for every member of Congress in 2009. [Source: Center for Public Integrity]

?625?


? 625 ? That?s the number of people who lost their health insurance EVERY HOUR in 2009 [Source: WonkRoom.ThinkProgress.org]

?41?


? 41 — that?s the number of leading economists — including three Nobel Prize winners — who sent a letter to President Obama and Congress yesterday urging the swift passage of comprehensive health insurance reform to curb skyrocketing health care costs. [Source]
? 41 — is also the percentage of adults under the age of 65 who accumulated medical debt, had difficulty paying medical bills, or struggled with both during a recent one year period. [Source]

?1?


? 1 — in every six dollars in the U.S. economy is spent on health care today. [Source]
? If we do nothing, in 30 years, 1 out of every three dollars in our economy will be tied up in the health care system. [Source]

?50/50?


? If you?re an American under the age of 65, there?s roughly a 50/50 chance that you will find yourself without coverage at some point in the next decade.[Source]

A summary of more than 150 opinion polls (see Live Graph from Pollster.com) indicate that while 44% of Americans support health reform, approximately 49% oppose it ? a result that has remained essentially unchanged since last July. Given that margins of error in such polls are typically around 4% or so, neither side can claim a clear victory. Last week?s Associated Press-GfK poll indicates a ?split decision?, with 41% supporting, 43% opposing, and 16% undecided about health reform. What will be the tipping point?

Pollster_HealthCare.png

Reprinted with permission from Pollster.com

{The following published March 16, 2010.}

Congress is likely to vote on the health care reform bill by the end of this week and according to a recent NPR report, there are currently 202 “hard committals” with 216 votes needed to move the bill forward. Unfortunately, this debate seems to have further hardened partisanship, as David Brooks wrote today in The New York Times,

Once partisan reconciliation is used for this bill, it will be used for everything, now and forever. ??reconciliation? has come to mean ?bitter division.?

For the sake of a functional governing body, let?s hope that this is an overstatement and not a harbinger of the future. Behind each of these numbers are individuals and families in need of accessible, affordable health care.

I would like to thank Mark Blumenthal at Pollster.com for permission to reproduce ?Health Care Plan: Favor/Oppose?; a picture is worth a thousand words!

A version of this article was originally published at NJ Voices.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike
    January 4, 2011

    “Given that margins of error in such polls are typically around 4% or so, neither side can claim a clear victory.”

    Of course, if you’re combining over 100 polls, the random sampling error (which is all that the “margin of error” really can account for) drops. There are other possible errors, but they aren’t included in the 3-4% typically quoted as the margin of error.

  2. #2 MacTurk
    January 5, 2011

    The figure quoted($1,115) for “the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage per month in 2009″ sounds pretty close to the cheapest monthly quote I got in Boston in 1988 as a self-employed person.

    I decided to be a very healthy bunny indeed, until I could get back to civilization in Europe.

    As for the statement that “A summary of more than 150 opinion polls (see Live Graph from Pollster.com) indicate that while 44% of Americans support health reform, approximately 49% oppose it”, well stupid is not such a strong anti-evolutionary as it used to be.

    You cannot afford the ramshackle mess that is your “health care” system. Change is inevitable.

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