Statistics Inflated

Posted on September 21, 2009

Dear Editor,

The Sept. 16 [editorial] “Health care debate should face central issues,” cites 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 to 1999, shows that nearly half of those uninsured Americans could likely afford to purchase health coverage. The average “voluntarily uninsured” household makes $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
Senior Economic Analyst
Employment
Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.