Half of Uninsured Can Afford It

Though a new report from the Census Bureau says that 50.7 million Americans went without health insurance last year (“Poverty rate rises to 14.3 percent, Census Bureau says,” Sept. 17), 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 to 1999, showed that nearly half of uninsured Americans aged 18 to 64 could likely afford to purchase health insurance. While the labor market has since changed, the conclusion is the same: Millions are currently 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.

Research Fellow,
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.