Estimate Of Uninsured Americans Is Way Overblown

Posted on August 26, 2009

In response to the letter “Still has a question for Shuler about health care,” (AC-T, Aug. 21), the oft-quoted statistic of 47 million uninsured 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. 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
Eastlick is the Senior Economic Analyst for the Employment Policies Institute in Washington, D.C.