Uninsured Population

Posted on September 16, 2009

Re: Sept. 5 commentary “Time is now to reform health care.”

Andy Brown cites a figure of nearly 47 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 afford health insurance is much lower.

A study by June O’Neill, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1995-1999, shows that more than 43 percent of uninsured Americans age 18-64 likely could afford to purchase health coverage. These individuals have incomes at least 2.5 times the poverty level.

We should not rush into the creation of a expensive health care 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
Senior economic analyst
Employment Policies Institute
[email protected]
Washington, D.C.