Many Choose To Be Uninsured

Posted on September 25, 2009

To elaborate on Tom Sears’ Sept. 15 opinion piece, “Don’t let truth get in the way,” the oft-quoted statistic of 47 million uninsured is actually a gross overestimation of the problem, as recent research suggests the number of Americans who cannot currently afford health insurance is much lower.

A new study by Dr. June O’Neill, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1995 to 1999, shows that nearly half of those uninsured Americans could likely afford to purchase health coverage. These individuals have incomes at least 21/2 times the poverty level, with the average “voluntarily uninsured” household making $65,000 per year.

We should not rush into the creation of a new, expensive health care system without a better understanding of the uninsured population. As long as we continue basing our arguments on inaccurate numbers, it’s hard to see how we can make effective policy decisions.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick
Washington, D.C.
Lopez Eastlick is senior economic analyst for the Employment Policies Institute.