Number Of Uninsured Is Vastly Over-Estimated

Posted on November 17, 2009

To elaborate on Gary Arneson’s Nov. 8 letter “You should be scared of government,” the oft-quoted statistic of 46 million uninsured is actually a gross overestimation of the problem, as recent research suggests the number of Americans who cannot 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 almost 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.

Eastlick is a senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute