Inflated Figure

Posted on October 09, 2009

The Oct. 4 letter “We must demand a public option” cites a figure of 47 million uninsured Americans. This oft-quoted statistic is 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, 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.
The writer is a senior economic analyst with the Employment Policies Institute.)