Skip to comments.U.S. Poverty Rate Unchanged; More People Lack Health Insurance
Posted on 08/30/2006 10:10:23 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four years into an economic recovery, the number of people living in poverty has finally stopped climbing.
Household incomes edged up slightly in 2005, but 37 million people were still living below the poverty line, about the same as the year before, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
It was the first year without an increase in poverty since 2000, just before President Bush took office.
The numbers immediately became political fodder, with a little more than two months to go before midterm congressional elections that will determine whether Republicans continue to control the House and the Senate.
Some Republicans blamed the stubborn poverty numbers on immigrants holding down wages. Democrats blamed the Bush administration, noting that incomes are lower and the poverty rate is higher than when Bush took office.
Democrats also noted that the number of people without health insurance climbed for the sixth straight year, reaching 46.6 million people in 2005.
"I know what they say about putting lipstick on a pig, but I don't see how the Bush administration can spin these numbers in their favor," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
Bush's budget chief said the new numbers show the economy's resilience following terrorist attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina a year ago.
"Unemployment is low, wages are rising and there are more jobs in America today than at any other time in history," said Rob Portman, Bush's budget director. "While we still have challenges ahead, our ability to bounce back is a testament to the strong work ethic of the American people, the resiliency of our economy, and pro-growth economic policies, including tax relief."
The Census Bureau surveyed 100,000 households in the spring about their incomes and health insurance in 2005. New Jersey had the highest median household income, at $61,672. Mississippi had the lowest, at $32,938.
Mississippi also had the highest poverty rate, at 21.3 percent. New Hampshire had the lowest, at 7.5 percent.
The survey covered four months following Hurricane Katrina, which struck a year ago Tuesday. But the storm had little effect on the numbers because the survey covered incomes and health insurance for the entire year and the entire country, said David Johnson, the Census Bureau's chief of housing and household economic statistics.
The official poverty level is used to decide eligibility for federal health, housing, nutrition and child care benefits.
The poverty level differs by family size and makeup. For example, the poverty level for a family of four was $19,971 last year. For a family of two, it was $12,755.
About 12.6 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in 2005. That's down from 12.7 percent in 2004, but the change was not statistically significant, census officials said.
The last decline in the poverty rate was in 2000, during the Clinton administration, when it dropped to 11.3 percent. It increased every year from 2001 to 2004.
The median household income - the point at which half make more and half make less - was $46,326, a slight increase from 2004, but still below the peak of $47,671 in 1999.
"For the first time on record, poverty was higher in the fourth year of an economic recovery than when the recession hit bottom," said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington research group.
"These disappointing figures on median income and poverty are the latest evidence that the economic growth of the past few years has had an unusually limited reach," Greenstein said. "Many middle- and low-income families are not sharing in the gains."
In Wisconsin, the poverty rate was 10.2 percent, which was down 0.5 percent from the previous year's level. The median income in Wisconsin dropped 4.6 percent from a two-year average of $48,181 in 2003-2004 to $45,956 in 2004-2005, adjusted for inflation. Looking at one-year numbers, the median income stayed essentially the same increasing 0.5 percent to $47,105.
The new Census figures also showed that 4.913 million people in Wisconsin had health insurance last year, while 534,000, or 9.8 percent, did not. That's down from the previous year when 103 percent had no insurance.
Conservatives said large numbers of immigrants are driving down wages and incomes, especially among low-income workers. Rep. Josh Barton, R-Texas, said immigrants are skewing the health insurance statistics.
"As the Census Bureau's report (Tuesday) indicated, the group most likely to be without health insurance in America is, in fact, not American at all," Barton said. "Non-citizens swell the ranks of the uninsured dramatically when they arrive in America with hopes and dreams, but without insurance."
About a third of all immigrants - legal and illegal - were without health insurance last year, according to the Census Bureau's report. About 13.4 percent of people born in the U.S. had no health insurance.
Others pointed to employers cutting or eliminating health benefits.
The share of people with employment-based health insurance decreased slightly, to 59.5 percent, continuing a trend that has some advocates worried about workers' ability to afford health care.
"Much more cost shifting is being done by employers to employees," said Henry Simmons, president of the National Coalition on Health Care. "You may have insurance, but it's not the same insurance that you had before."
1) Out of wedlock births
2) Kids who attend public schools often learn little, and end up dropping out
3) Minimum wage increases lock young people out of starter jobs
4) Illegal immigrants lock unskilled Americans out of jobs
Do the Dems have a plan for dealing with any of that?
Yes, they do. Much more of the same.
Need to increase their voter base.
We fought the war on poverty, and poverty won.
Democrats started the war on poverty. Why don't Democrats step up and take responsibility for the obvious failures of the war on poverty, the way they want Bush to take take responsibility for what they perceive as a failed war on terror?
"Drive-By Media Alert!"
and to continue, this country became a Great country BEFORE there were such things as health insurance, welfare checks or food stamps. Is my history incorrect here?
We fought the war on drugs and drugs won, too.
Let's hope the War on Terror does not bring a three-peat........
Sure there are some who cannot afford it, but you also have those who don't need it due to:
Now, which of those was Bush's fault?
I'm sick and damned tired of hearing about the health insurance "crisis". Are we tripping over the maimed and sick on our way to work? Are there people crawling about our streets begging for health care? Spitting up blood on the steps of our hospitals?
The poor are fat, just go by the Saturday morning free commodities handout line. Most of the people could feed a third world nation on the calories stored in their bodies.
Do I need to read beyond the first sentence?
As poor people immigrate to the USA in large numbers, of course the number "living in poverty" has increased. But note that often the poverty stricken dependents of those immigrants still live in the old country. And it is the number of dependents that is a key factor in labeling one as "living in poverty".
A fair and balanced news article would also report that the number of upwardly mobile people who were formerly poverty sticken is rapidly increasing. The number of homeowners reaches new records every year among the demographic groups associated with poverty. (Blacks, Hispanics, single parents, single women, etc.)
A fair and balanced article would also report that it is precisely government intervention in the free market place that causes people to make the choices that they do.
When people have a choice between buying a house and paying a mortgage or buying health care, they consciously decide that buying a house is a wise choice and buying health care is a bad choice.
Housing has been a good choice because
-Interest rates were relatively low
-Immigration has created a high demand for housing which drove up the price (until the anti (illegal) immigrant rhetoric killed the real estate market.
-There is no tax on capital gains when the profit from the sale of one house to an immigrant is used to buy an even more expensive house, which is more expensive due to the trickle up demand.
Health Insurance is not a good choice.
-The taxpayer suckers will always pay for medical care. To sho the illogic of these suckers, some want to cut off illegals from this welfare but seem totally content with paying for citizens and legals. Well, as any pro-lifer knows, a baby in the womb is separate from the mother and is thus entitled to well baby care.
-The majority of the health insurance dollar does not go to doctors, nurses and other health care providers. It goes to medical malpractice insurance and all the overhead imposed on society by a busybody congress. For example, both ADA and HIPPA have been extremely expensive to society. At least ADA has actually benefitted a few disabled people, albeit at a high cost to the rest of us, and with a high cost of abuse of ADA by malingerers claiming they are disabled.
In contrast, HIPPA has cost the BlueCross/BlueShield family BILLIONS of dollars.
It has cost Aetna and the privates BILLIONS.
It has cost the HMOs BILLIONS..
It has cost Federal, state and local health Departments (taxpayers) BILLIONS..
It has cost Hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, doctors and other providers BILLIONS..
It has cost employers BILLIONS..
I have an open offer for just one person to step forward and say that his health is better due to HIPPA. The fact is that it has not improved the health of a single person for all the many BILLIONS of dollars spent.
But is has provided employment for a lot of us consultants, both here and in Bangalore.
"It was the first year without an increase in poverty since 2000, just before President Bush took office."
The AP will reach for everything. Bush is even responsible for the year BEFORE he took office.
I see a lot of fat "poor" people with cell phones and tattoos.
What do they know that I don't know?
Another grabage articel by AP for example
It was the first year without an increase in poverty since 2000, just before President Bush took office.
The last decline in the poverty rate was in 2000, during the Clinton administration,
Bush bad...Clinton good.
Dem banner ad...
They "explain" by explaining nothing. They should state HOW those numbers are arrived at
That would screw up their agenda, though, since the only way to get everyone above the "Poverty line", IIRC, is if everyone had the same income, so that there would not be any percentile rankings.
Hogwash! Texas passed malpractice reform and the end result was Doctors pocketing more money. I know numerous doctors making over million a year.
They have! Medical Malpractice Law Firms are almost Nonexistent in Texas. I am trying to see how anyone but the doctors benefited.
They should state HOW those numbers are arrived at...
"The AP will reach for everything. Bush is even responsible for the year BEFORE he took office."
"We are NOT wealthy, and we are uninsured, but not without medical care...the Democrats must hate us."
I'm thinking of dropping our health insurance, too. We pay for it ourselves as small business owners and it costs us close to $5,400.00 year, too. I'm thnking of dropping me because I'm healthy as a horse, though DH has a few meds he needs and has had two spinal surgeries already with probably more in his future, poor guy. (Bad discs.)
It is a cr@p shoot, that's for sure. If we didn't have insurance when he needed his surgeries, we'd still be paying off over $100,000.00 in hospital bills, so I'm a little nervous to go completely cold-turkey, though I'd love to.
Yeah; like I said, the only way they can "eliminate poverty" using their rules is to have zero variation in per capita income.
Point Two: In a growing population, the "bottom 15%" is always increasing, numerically.
Yes, it is a calculated risk, and that depends heavily upon one's prior medical history, and life style.
Our biggest risk is accident, and the highest risk there is auto...and that is covered by vehicle policies.
It also helps that Medicare is coming up in a few years; but any private general health/medical policy would expire then anyway.
Plan "A" was military retirement with full benefits; early onset, non-service connected asthma ended that, so it has been other alternatives ever since.
Oh, and don't forget to subtract savings on unpurchased insurance premiums, plus interest earned, to arrive at net cost of uninsured care.
Over 50% of a doctor's time is not providing health care. It is filling out cya. So maybe I worded my post poorly. Most of the health care dollar does not go to health providers to provide health care... a large portion of the money the health care provider receives is to cover the time he spends filling out the paperwork for cya.
The NET income of the average doctor has not gone up as fast as that of poorly educated computer programmers like me, nor as fast as tort lawyers, nor as fast an most other professionals.
Nurses did have a period of steep increases which came after a long plateau and has not almost leveled off.
I've consulted to health insurers (on billion dollar HIPAA projects that was a total waste of time and money... but imposed on them by law) and have seen the numbers on where the money goes.
Health insurance managed through employers is a vestige of the paternalism of Old Europe.
Healthcare management should be a consumer-based system empowering individuals and families. Beyond this, religious and other non-profit, charitable organizations should have a place, but it should be about the empowered individual.
Excelent article by Milton Friedman.
The solution, which may never be adopted by politicians is a PRA - PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACCOUNT.
Require each employer withold from gross pay and direct deposit into a PRA at the financial institution designated by the employee. This is similar to the way the employee designates direct deposit of the NET pay. So then the employee could designate both halves of his gross pay... the part he sees and the part he doesn't see. Of course, it would all be clear in a simple pay stub.
Into the PRA go ALL employer expenses currently designated as FICA, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, Food Stamps, WIC, Kidcare, ALLCare, Unemployment Comp, Workers Comp, Health Insurance, Sick Pay, 401K, 403B, IRA, etc. This would include the Health and Welfare costs currently covered by the Income tax. So the income tax (or FAIR tax) would be less than it is now.
ALL of that cost that is seldom seen by the employee is put into the PRA. The PRA is the employee's money. What he does not spend is his.... his for retirement, for paid unemployment, or whatever.
The employee would spend the money with a debit card. There would be laws as to the circumstances and purposes under which the employee could access this money. There would be laws to require "major medical" as part of the package. The employee would have to violate the rules in order to squander the money. There is no doubt that a small percentage of people will find a way to squander the money.
But the vast majority of the people will have control of their money with a very low "expense ratio". Their money will grow. Probably 80% of all people would realize better use of their money. Probably 15% would be in the same position as they are now. Probably 5% would squander the money. Why should the 80% be penalized for the immediate gratification of the 5%? Under Personal Responsibility Accounts we would see a slight improvement in lifestyle choices. Not utopia... but better than some of the stupid choices people now make.
The simple fact is that most medical costs come in two categories.
1) Keeping senior citizens alive a couple more months when they are terminal. I hate to be cold. By why should future generations not yet born be required to pay for that?
2) Lifestyle. Alcohol, drugs, overeating, bad diet, no exercise, risky behavior... these are the single largest category of health care costs. Why should Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists with a good lifestyle be required to pay for the lousy lifestyle of the rest of us.
I drink too much Mountain Dew and eat too few veggies. When I need medical care, why should the good lifestyle person pay for my immediate gratification?
In order to get it accepted politically, we would put some "seed money" in the accounts of the working poor. That "seed money" would have stricter rules on how it could be spent.
The big losers would be alcoholics and similar malingerers on SSI. They'd have to get work.
Of course, none of this would in anyway prevent any private charity from doing whatever it pleased to help (or not) those with poor lifestyle choices.
Anyone going to the ER with battery of test cost 10K to avg person but insurance companies settle for 4K. If you or I ask for the insurance discount they say it's not available to you only to insurance companies because they have a mutual deal. It's all collusion in my book.
Thank you! I always appreciate your advice. :)
In reality, if something 'medically tragic' happens to me, I can draw upon my military medical benfits as a vet. I am leaning more and more towards keeping husband insured and dropping myself from the policy. I'm easier to re-insure than he is if it comes down to it.
Genetically, I'm clean, too. My parents are in their 70's and neither is on any prescription medication, which is rare. Little cancer in our family, no problems with cholesterol, and only one massive heart attack amongst hundreds of relatives. Most everyone lives to be an old f@rt in my family. My Great Aunts are all in their 90's and living on their own having outlived their husbands by decades. :)
Last physical I had, my doctor said she's never seen anyone healthier for my age (46) here in Cow Town. And she knows the skinny on everyone, LOL! I owe it all to Clean Country Livin' and a Conservative Attitude! :)
"...but it should be about the empowered individual."
Amen to that!
Maybe the poverty rate has increased, however, if I remember correctly, the POVERTY RATES DURING THE FIRST FOUR YEARS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WERE LOWER THAN THE RATES OF THE FIRST SIX YEARS OF THE CLINTON "ADMINISTRATION." Somebody who knows where to check this, please do.
Here you go. Knock it out of the park, line drive to right! :)
There is a link here to the historical poverty tables: