September 19,2000

Part of the fallout from the presidential campaign has been the sharp criticism of the state of Texas. For example, one of the ads against George W. Bush cites the disturbing figure that 4.8 million Texas residents are uninsured. That means that one of every four Texans is not covered by health insurance.

A recent study by the National Center for Policy Analysis shows that there are some very good reasons for this situation. One reason is demographics. Another reason is government policy.

Wherever they live, young adults, single people, Hispanics, and non-citizens tend to remain uninsured in higher proportions than the overall population. The NCPA study shows that Texas has greater numbers of each than most other states. For example, 42 percent of Texas adults 18 to 24 are uninsured. Fifty percent of the uninsured are Hispanic.

Government policy is the other reason. Lack of insurance is not a major barrier to health care. There are more than 40 federal health care programs that fund health services for the uninsured in Texas, and Texas counties are required by state law to have programs to serve the medically indigent.

Consider this. In Texas, there are approximately 1.6 million people eligible for Medicaid who are not enrolled. Yet in all major cities, "Medicaid patients and the uninsured enter the same emergency rooms, see the same doctors and are admitted to the same hospital rooms. Those who are signed up for government insurance do not get more care, faster care or better care."

Once you understand the statistics, you can begin to see the current circumstances and begin to design policies to deal with the problem. Healthy young people may choose to spend their disposable incomes on things other than health care. But government might be able to reduce the number of other Texans who are uninsured by subsidizing private insurance as generously as it subsidizes free care to the uninsured.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.