Sunday, September 16, 2007
Insuring the uninsured: the right thing to do, but what's in it for me?
In short, altruism has its limits, as does the public’s appetite for trade-offs in their own lives for the sake of the uninsured, said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who worked for the insurance industry in 1993 and 1994. “Never, in my years of work, have I found someone who said, ‘I will reduce the quality of the health care I get so that all Americans can get something,’ ” he said. “Every time the debate reaches that point, it collapses.”
This time, candidates are emphasizing the benefits for people who already have insurance — lower costs for coverage, new programs to improve the quality of health care. “Everyone has to feel, at the end of the day, that they will get something,” said one Clinton adviser.
Expanding coverage to the forty-seven million Americans who now lack health insurance could greatly improve care for people who already are protected. Economists Mark Pauly of Wharton and José Pagán of the University of Texas-Pan American found that insured adults who live in communities with high uninsurance rates are more likely to face problems with access to care and quality than those who live in communities where more people are covered.