U.S. poverty rate dips 0.3 percentage points

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nation’s poverty rate dropped last year, the first significant decline since President Bush took office.

The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that 36.5 million Americans, or 12.3 percent — were living in poverty last year. That’s down from 12.6 percent in 2005.

The median household income was $48,200, a slight increase from the previous year. But the number of people without health insurance also increased, to 47 million.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch

Posted August 28, 2007 at 5:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

The “uninsured problem” is really no problem at all, except in the publicity of those who believe in some sort of government administered medical insurance. Depending on whose numbers you use the figures break down something like this:
a) 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants.  Let’s call it 16 million. Sorry, no sympathy there. We pay for ‘em anyway at hospital ERs.
b) 14 to 17 million eligible for existing programs, but choosing not to participate. Let’s call it 15 million.
c) 9 to 10 million wealthy (upper tercile) choosing to self-insure.
d) 3 to 4 million modest-income people, overwhelmingly young, choosing to self-insure.

That leaves about 3 million people who would like insurance, but cannot “afford” it. An indeterminate number of them have decided that something else is a higher priority in their lives.

My wife and I have excellent high-deductible medical insurance costing us less than one pack of cigarettes per day, for the two of us. Both my wife’s parents are medical people and they inform us that a substantial majority of the medically uninsured ... smoke, often quite heavily.

Having lived for two decades in the ongoing disaster that is the Canadian medical system—remember the quads recently born in Great Falls, Montana (population 55,000) because there wasn’t a neo-natal ICU anywhere in Calgary (1.1 million), Edmonton (1.1 million) or Vancouver (2.4 million) that could handle four preemies—I can assure you it would be a monumental mistake with profound and lasting consequences to move towards a “single payor” system, especially to take care of illegal immigrants and a few million other people, many of whom could choose to come up with the funds necessary for effective insurance.

August 28, 7:08 pm | [comment link]
2. TomRightmyer wrote:

Good family medical insurance costs about $12K a year in Western NC and that is difficult for many congregations to carry when added to salary / housing and 18% Church Pension Fund expense.

Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC

August 28, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
3. teatime wrote:

Oh, not this accusatory crap again (#1). Bart, I am disabled and apparently fall under your 3 million category as I don’t fit your a-d categories. I have a serious disease (hence, the disability) and would love to know how I can supposedly buy my own insurance when, 1) no one will insure me with a serious pre-existing condition, 2) By law, I have a 2 year, 5 month waiting period for Medicare, and 3) “Risk pool” insurance for me costs between $600-700 per month, which is more than half of my monthly income, and has high deductibles. That means even if I could somehow afford the premiums, which I can’t, I’d have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before they’d cover anything.

I’m not alone in this situation; far from it. Blaming people such as myself for not having health insurance is cruel. I’m glad it’s worked out for you, but it’s certainly not my fault that I can’t get coverage.

August 28, 10:08 pm | [comment link]
4. DonGander wrote:

Poverty in this country looks pretty good to those living in Uganda.

August 29, 12:01 am | [comment link]
5. hookem1175 wrote:

#3 - No offense meant, but if you are struggling trying to find/get healthcare, it seems to me you shouldn’t be sitting around making comments on blogs. Maybe your priorities need to be re-evaluated. Just a thought…

August 29, 11:12 am | [comment link]
6. Sarah1 wrote:

Teatime, I did not see accusing of people by Bart Hall.  I saw him shattering and pulverizing the laughably false claim that “47 million” US citizens are uninsured.

You would seem to fall into the category that Bart describes in this way: “That leaves about 3 million people who would like insurance, but cannot “afford” it. An indeterminate number of them have decided that something else is a higher priority in their lives.”

You are not a part of that “indeterminate number” who have higher priorities.  You are a part of the 3 million that would simply like to be insured and are simply unable to be so.

Three million is a lot of people.  But . . . it’s not 47 million.

Frankly, if the government and the churches would focus on that 3 million rather than the false and inflated 47 million designed to terrify people into throwing up their hands and acceding to the State controlling healthcare entirely [rather than largely, as they do now] than perhaps people like you could get some help.

August 29, 1:04 pm | [comment link]
7. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Or, perhaps he’s part of the 15 million eligible for existing programs. I don’t know. That isn’t the issue. We’ve already had way too much of formulating national policy based on a handful of legitimate sob-stories.

We’re talking here about nationalizing one-sixth of the US economy because about 1 per cent of the population are (perhaps) having “issues” with medical insurance.

My wife and I know first-hand about the challenges of being locked out of medical insurance coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. There are, nevertheless, ways to work around that with a bit of creativity and diligence.

The fundamental problem with American medical insurance is that something like 88 cents of each health-care dollar are spent by a third party. People don’t shop for health services because somebody else is—they think—footing the bill.

People expect first-dollar coverage by a third party. There’s no other word for that than STOO-PID. What would automobile insurance cost if we expected it to cover each and every oil change or new set of tires?

Decent family coverage does not need to cost $1,000 per month. The essential problem is that when we expect somebody else to pay for our medical services—or medical insurance—we stop paying attention. That is not good stewardship.

A very good family policy can be had for about $200 per month ... provided the family are willing to spend a few hundred dollars per year on the basic things out of their own pocket. So the church buys a decent, high-deductible policy for the pastor and drops an extra thousand bucks per year into a Health Savings Account to cover the little stuff and any potential deductible.

Voila, they save nine grand per year. None of this is complicated or difficult—it simply requires that collectively we take more responsibility for our own lives, and, frankly, how well we “take care of the temple.”

August 29, 5:46 pm | [comment link]
8. Sarah1 wrote:

Bart Hall—I love HSAs.  Would be interested if you have any recommendations or favorites?

August 29, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
9. teatime wrote:

#5—Offense taken. I have contacted everyone in the state, local and federal government for help, was assigned an ombudsman by the governor’s office, and she couldn’t find me help, either. Her exact words were “you and a million others fall through the cracks. I’m sorry.”

I suppose good Christian people such as yourself would insist that someone who is disabled and homebound shouldn’t have the luxury of a cheap computer and $15 Internet because, goodness, I could pawn the computer for $50 and that would get me part of one doctor’s visit. And we have no right to need some contact with the world outside of our four walls.

I used to pray for people who blamed uninsured sick folks for their lot, that they would be spared the reality of the situation. No more. Since Bart and Co. can’t listen to a real person’s experience without turning nasty and calling my reality a “sob story,” I hope and pray that they find out firsthand how difficult and unjust the system can be. Some people have to learn the hard way.

August 29, 11:34 pm | [comment link]
10. hookem1175 wrote:

No need to get all sensitive teatime, but perhaps there was some truth to my statement based on your sharp reaction?

“Since Bart and Co. can’t listen to a real person’s experience without turning nasty and calling my reality a “sob story,” I hope and pray that they find out firsthand how difficult and unjust the system can be. Some people have to learn the hard way.”*** Not really a Christian attitude to distort someone’s words and pray them harm. All I did was question your priorities, perhaps in jest, as I do not know your situation. My sincerest apologies for the misunderstanding.

August 29, 11:59 pm | [comment link]
11. libraryjim wrote:

The poverty line has fallen? Great! Now maybe they will stop playing those stupid commercials that say “there is a line across America, dividing….” 
sheesh, we’ve had Democratic programs in place since the 1930’s, it seems to me that if something COULD be done effectively, it WOULD have been done with these utopian welfare programs. 

Maybe it’s time to re-think the causes and problems of WHY people are in poverty and either re-vamp or eliminate these programs across the board!

August 30, 11:21 am | [comment link]
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