For Those Who Want It

Though a new report from the Census Bureau says that 50.7 million Americans went without health insurance last year (“More impoverished Americans,” editorial, Sept. 27), this statistic doesn’t provide a complete picture of the nation’s uninsured.

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

The writer is a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute.