Who lacks health insurance in America?

According to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans officially classified as uninsured in 2007 was 45.7 million. This figure is being used, naturally, to promote the case for radical “reform” that in practice would amount to a government takeover of the health care industry.

However, Sally Pipes, in her Sunday Examiner column, shows that the 45.7 million uninsured figure is misleading as a barometer of the state of health insurance coverage in the U.S. She identifies four groups within that figure: (1) people who will quickly transfer from one insurance plan to another, (2) illegal immigrants, (3) individuals who make more than $50,000 a year but who elect not to purchase health insurance (usually because they are young and healthy), and (4) individuals who are eligible for government assistance with their health care through programs like Medicaid and SCHIP, but who do not avail themselves of that assistance.

According to Pipes, if one subtracts these people from the 45.7 million figure, the number drops to approximately 8 million. If one adds back in those who make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, the figure is roughly 16 million.

These numbers provide a much more realistic sense of whether and to what extent we face a crisis in health care coverage. They should also point the way to the most reasonable solutions to what indisputably is at least a problem. Those solutions do not include socialized medicine.

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