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August 19 2009

Unmasking the Uninsured

Nicole Kurokawa Neily

To defend my colleague Carrie Lukas from comments made on a previous post, numbers about who the uninsured are have been vastly overstated. It is true that taken as a snapshot in time, there are 47 million Americans at any given time who do not currently possess health insurance. But this deserves a much closer examination.

June O'Neill, former CBO director of the Congressional Budget Office, recently released a study detailing the composition of this group. Her conclusions are very important, and should be a significant part of the debate on how to "cover" this group. Some of her findings:

  • One quarter of those counted as uninsured - 12 million- are eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP but haven't enrolled.
  • 43 percent of the uninsured have incomes higher than 250 percent of the poverty level ($55,125 for a family of four). And slightly more than a third have incomes in excess of $66,000.
  • Most of the uninsured are young and in good health: the CBO reports roughly 60 percent are under 35, and 86 percent report that they are in good or excellent health.
  • Most people without health insurance are uninsured for a relatively short period of time - only about 30 percent of the uninsured remain so for more than a year, approximately 16 percent for two years, and less than 2.5 percent for three years or longer. About half are uninsured for six months or less.


Perhaps a public plan (or co-op, or whatever the term du jour is) isn't the best way to help, is it?

(H/T: Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute.)

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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