Millions of Americans Forgo Health Insurance By Choice

Though a new report from the Census Bureau says that 50.7 million Americans went without health insurance last year (“Ohio’s poverty, uninsured rates up; median income drops sharply,” Thursday), this statistic doesn’t provide a complete picture of the nation’s uninsured.

A 2009 study co-authored by Dr. June O’Neill, who served as the director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1995-99, showed that nearly half of uninsured Americans age 18 to 64 probably could afford health insurance. While the labor market has since changed, the conclusion is the same: Millions are uninsured by choice.

Instead of passing a costly health care law that requires almost everyone to purchase insurance — even people who don’t want to — Congress should have focused specifically on Americans who wanted coverage but couldn’t afford it.

Michael Saltsman, Washington, D.C.
Saltsman is a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute.