Uninsured Figure Is Likely Inflated

Posted on October 07, 2009

To elaborate on the Sept. 22 article “Americans favor reform, not an overhaul,” 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 1995-1999, shows that nearly half of those uninsured Americans could likely afford to purchase health coverage. The average “voluntarily uninsured” household makes $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.
Senior Economic Analyst
Employment Policies Institute