Above Poverty Line, Below Health Coverage

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.



If you think you don't make enough money, you're probably right. A brand new study from California estimates that a Los Angeles-based family of four with both parents working needs $74,000 a year just to get by.

This estimate includes the cost of housing -- renting, not ownership -- food, transportation, and child care. This statistic does not include savings for college or even health insurance.

Once upon a time, $74,000 was a lot of money. It still is, if you're working for minimum wage. It would take five full-time minimum wage jobs to make that $74,000 a year.

The White House has complained that the SCHIP program could put health care for kids into the hands of people making -- hang on now -- up to $80,000 a year! That might sound outrageous if you live and work in the Washington bubble. But, it doesn't seem so crazy when you look at real life.

Sure, $70,000 or $80,000 is many times what is considered the official poverty level. But in real life, poor is what you feel when you can't afford health insurance.


Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

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