The song is American Gothic. The artist, David Ackles. I remember where I was when I first heard an odd song about an unsuccessful farmer and his less-than-faithful spouse. The payoff was the last line, “They suffer least who suffer what they choose”. I was only eighteen, but surely I had heard something like this before though I could not recall when. We must accept some responsibility for what we have and what we lack. This should not be confused with blaming the victim for circumstances beyond his/her control. It simply means that we may be part of both the problem and the solution. Or, we may actually be OK with the status quo.
And that brings us to Texas. WalletHub, a personal finance website, accessed health insurance data from the U.S. Census Bureau to compare the rates of uninsured in our country. There is a lot of information here and worth a couple minutes of your time. The graphs show the percent of uninsured by race and income, children vs. adults, and the change since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This is the link to the comparison by state. This is the link to the comparison by city. To the surprise of no one, Texas came in last. It wasn’t even close.
The adult uninsured rate for Texas in 2018 was 20.23%, 1 in 5 of every adult in the state. The next closest was Oklahoma at 16.31%. The rate for children was a shocking 11.15%. These rates are an improvement over pre-Obamacare rates. For comparison sake, Ohio ranks 18th with adults at 6.97% and children at 4.82%. Not great, but not Texas.
In case you were wondering, Cleveland came in at 258th with an adult uninsured rate of 8.99%. Dallas is 539th with an uninsured rate of 27.03% for adults and 16.96% for children! There are Texas cities, like Laredo and Brownsville, with even higher numbers.
The Texas / Trump lawsuit is working its way through the courts. Invalidating the PPACA without any replacement, transition, or clue would disrupt our system and eliminate the protections afforded so many of us by the law. It is estimated that 27% of Americans under age 65, 53.8 million, have preexisting conditions that would impact whether or not they could purchase health insurance if we went back to asking health questions and underwriting.
Health insurance is the way most of us access and pay for health care. It is one thing for the residents of Texas to accept a 20% uninsured rate. It is quite another if we let them impose that on the rest of us. It is incumbent upon us to act. They suffer least who suffer what they choose.
Picture –My Team, My Pain, My Choice – David L Cunix
Quick Update: This is from NPR.