Not So Many Uninsured

Posted on September 02, 2009

In the Aug. 25 article “Compromise On Obamacare Public Option Unlikely,” you cite a figure of 46 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 1995-1999, shows that nearly half of those uninsured Americans could likely afford to purchase health coverage. These individuals have incomes at least 2.5 times the poverty level, with the average “voluntarily uninsured” household making $65,000 per year.

We should not rush into the creation of a new, expensive healthcare system without a better understanding of the uninsured population.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick,
Senior Economic Analyst
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.