Overestimating The Uninsured Problem

Posted on September 16, 2009

The Burlington County Times editorial, “Boorish behavior” (Sept. 11), cites a figure of 46 million uninsured Americans. This oft-quoted statistic is actually a gross overestimation of the problem, as recent research suggests that 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 to 1999, shows that nearly half of those uninsured Americans could likely afford to purchase health coverage. These individuals have incomes of at least 2.5 times the poverty level, with the average “voluntarily uninsured” household making $65,000 per year.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick
Senior economic analyst
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.