I spoke to Steve Anderson, a research fellow with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, today about Census data released this morning that showed an increase in Oklahoma’s poverty rate.
Part of the American Community Survey, which, to my understanding, replaced the Census ”long form” so many Americans loathed, the “poverty report,” as one Tulsa advocacy group called it, is an annual assessment of cities and states’ income. A related report included statistics on health insurance.
Anyway, if you read Wednesday’s paper, or check the Web, you’ll get all this.
What interested me most about the conversation with Anderson, a certified public accountant with a wide knowledge of state government, was his assertion that the rate of uninsured Oklahomans may not be as accurate as is normally portrayed — either numerically or qualitatively.
Anderson said the Census didn’t count American Indians who receive tribal health care. Nor did it reflect those who choose not to have health insurance — the young and fearless, for example. Or those who just aren’t responsible.
I haven’t been able to research his tribal health care claims, and if I have run across statistics on people shunning health plans they can afford, I have long since lost them. However, the bigger picture is more important: Are we making a public-policy crisis out of a problem? If so, to what end?
I’m not weighing in one way or the other. I just think it’s wise to consider things we repeat and take as truth sometimes have shaky foundations. The more we repeat them, the more ingrained they become.
That many Americans are uninsured is undeniable. That they cost a lot of time, money, efficiency and are less healthy than those with insurance is also, in my opinion, undeniable. What is debatable are the scope of the problem and its solution.
On an unrelated note, if you have ever had trouble managing your cholesterol but tried to make a real effort to do better nonetheless, I’d like to talk to you. Please e-mail me by clicking on my name or call me at (405) 475-3364.