This was the stark top headline on our front page the other day: “Census: Nearly 1 in 6 live in poverty.”
The smaller headline below the national size-up zeroed in: “Florida now has third-highest rate of residents without health insurance, behind only Texas and New Mexico.”
Those headlines and the story below them launched many a conversation.
Even individuals could go back and forth on their own.
“Well,” you might say, “the recession has hit our state harder than most other places, so where’s the surprise? People in our state have lost either jobs and the insurance that tends to come with them, or they have lost the means to continue buying private policies.”
Still others may have looked at the story and the serious news play afforded it and responded along these lines: “How could so many people around here be so against federal health-care reform that would seem to address this shortcoming and what it means to individuals’ health and hospitals’ emergency rooms and those who do have insurance?”
Then we factor in, too, a certain number of people who could afford insurance, even today, and decide against it in favor of a flashier car or a nicer boat.
The conundrum leads us to think about the need to diversify from fields such as constriction and real estate — with a twist.
How about something new.
How about, for example, some economic-diversification efforts with a reach broader than high tech? How about something for the rank and file with less specialized training?
How about an approach to insurance that helps set up lower rates by virtue of a larger pool of customers?
The “how abouts” can go on and on.
And in this hypercharged political atmosphere, with presidential elections a year away, the “how abouts” probably will.
If nothing else, the headlines and the buzz they stir ought to remind our politicians why public attention is riveted to news reports that some enjoy low-cost, tax-subsidized insurance options that rank-and-file taxpayers and lower-ranking state employees do not enjoy. Some of the policyholders call it a perk for low-paying work; some of the rest of us might call it simply helping yourself at public expense to a benefit more and more Floridians are doing without.