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Statistic without merit

Nicholas Frecker | Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I’m not really a Rick Perry fan. I’m simply not. But that doesn’t change the fact that he has recently been accused of having a terrible health care system in the state of Texas. That accusation has been “justified” with the fact that 26 percent of Texas citizens lack health care. Unfortunately for these accusers, some statistics have little merit.

Mr. Perry actually has a very solid health care system. For example, the free market has made health care cheaper in Texas than in most other states, even adjusting for the cost of living. The growth of premium costs in the state has increased for individual plans by only four percent from 2003 to 2009. This is 20 percent less than the national average (five percent), and 44 percent less than Mitt Romney’s government-run and mandated health care in Massachusetts (7.1 percent). Yes, that’s 7.1 percent to four percent. Yay for state-run health care!

People who think that Texas is just cheap in health care spending are also misguided. There is a larger percentage of people on Medicaid in Texas than in the nation as a whole (16 percent as opposed to 15.7 percent). Despite this, Texas saves a considerable amount of money on Medicaid costs due to the state’s relatively cheap health care. The state spends only 5.1 percent of its budget on Medicaid, as opposed to 15.7 percent nationwide and 28.9 percent in Massachusetts, and this is despite the fact that a slightly larger percentage of Texans are on Medicaid than in other states.

“But 26 percent of Texans don’t have health insurance,” some may cry out, desperately trying to swing the argument back to their side. Don’t worry here either, as this statistic’s actual significance is blown completely out of proportion.

Approximately one-third of that 26 percent consists of illegal immigrants, while a decent number more are the children of illegal immigrants. These people aren’t even United States citizens, let alone Texans. Why should the state be criticized for not being able to accommodate them? That 26 percent also includes anybody who has not had health insurance, even for a day, over the past two years. That means that if you dropped your health care insurance for a month while you were transitioning to the best health care coverage in the entire world, you would be included in this 26 percent of “uninsured” citizens. Logical, right?

Also, you can’t forget about the fact that some people simply don’t want to pay for health insurance. This is especially true in 20-30 year-olds, who are in the best shape of their life. They don’t mind taking the risk of not paying for coverage, and you know what? It normally pays off. There’s also the fact that you can rest assured that a sizable chunk of that 26 percent isn’t going without their cell phone, their internet service, their cable T.V. etc. So while advocates of state run health care or anti-Perry people may try to make that 26 percent seem more significant than it really is, common sense and logic makes the number far less worthy of our attention, especially considering Texas’s above average health care system. Although statistics may be an excellent way to make a point, just make sure those statistics actually have merit.

Nicholas Frecker


Stanford Hall

Aug. 29