Tax credits for the poor to buy health insurance such as those proposed by the Bush administration are unlikely to reduce the rolls of the estimated 43 million U.S. uninsured, a study released on Wednesday said.
The struggling economy and corporate layoffs have pushed record numbers of people off health insurance in recent years. Most Americans get health coverage through employers.
A remedy proposed by President Bush offers tax credits to the needy, who would be required to buy health insurance individually. Past Bush plans were projected to cost taxpayers $89 billion over 10 years.
But these people would have to spend significantly more if they took the tax credit option, according to an analysis of some 8,000 low-income Americans without health insurance.
That would lead few to opt for the credits and so would have little effect on health care coverage nationally, the study found. The grim choices facing the poor among food, shelter and health care are part of the reason for this, the report in the journal Health Affairs said.
For example, an uninsured family that spent $463 out of pocket on health care in 2001 dollars would have to lay out $2,511 if it chose the tax credit option modeled on one proposed by Bush.
Quintupling what the poor spend of their own limited money on health care — that's the Republican definition of "compassion."