Get A Better View Of The Uninsured

Posted on December 16, 2009

The Dec. 8 opinion piece published in the Herald News, “Theories on the health care stalemate,” cites a figure of 47 million uninsured Americans. This oft-quoted statistic 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. 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 for the Employment Policies Institute.