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by Pearl Hahn

On Tuesday night, over two hundred people gathered at McKinley High School for Charles Djou’s health care forum. I was granted the opportunity to speak about Hawaii’s failed experience with employer mandated insurance. Dr. Linda Rasmussen imparted key information about the need for tort reform while Bruce Bottorff of the AARP defended Obama’s support for expanding government in the health care sector.

Most of the crowd expressed reservations concerning government expansion in health care. On the other side of the debate, valid points were made.

One gentleman wanted to know how we proposed covering some 47 million uninsured Americans.

Upon seeing that number, people automatically assume that these 47 million Americans are impoverished people on the brink of death. This is far from the truth.

Of that 47 million, 19 percent, or 9 million, are individuals who earn over $75,000. Clearly, they can afford insurance, but for any number of reasons choose not to purchase insurance. About 20 percent, or close to 10 million, are eligible for existing government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare and are not enrolled in these programs. Another 13 percent, or 6 million, are eligible for employer-sponsored insurance. About 11 percent, or 10.2 million people, are not Americans (non-citizens). About half of those are illegal immigrants and half are legal immigrants.

That leaves only 12 million people who are genuinely without affordable options. Not quite the 47 million that proponents of a government takeover keep quoting.

A individual’s health insurance costs approximately $4,000 to $5,000 per year. Covering insurance for these 12 million in need would thus cost about $54 billion.

H.R. 3200, or America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, purports to cover the uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that implementation would raise the deficit by $1.042 trillion (yes trillion) from 2010 to 2019 alone.

H.R. 3200’s cost is unconscionable and unjustifiable especially when covering those who are truly in need costs a fraction of this legislation.

Pearl can be reached at pearl@grassrootinstitute.org