Health Insurance: Funny numbers

The Unhealthy Accounting of Uninsured Americans


The Census Bureau estimates that the number of uninsured amounts to 45.7 million people. But the agency might be overcounting by millions due to faulty assumptions. Another problem: That 45.7 million figure includes undocumented immigrants, even though they aren't likely to be covered under new laws.


These sorts of numbers made headlines last week when the CBO dealt a blow to a bill introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy. The congressional budget watchdog, which relied in part on the 45.7 million uninsured number, said the bill would cost $1 trillion over 10 years, and reduce the number of uninsured Americans by just 17 million, leaving tens of millions of people without coverage.

Even though legislation won't cover many of them, illegal immigrants are especially difficult to enumerate: Few raise their hands to be counted. Prof. Gruber estimates they make up about 13% of the uninsured today, or nearly six million people of that 45 million number.

Of the rest, some people are eligible for health insurance but don't know it and many can afford it but don't want it. About 43% of uninsured nonelderly adults have incomes greater than 2.5 times the poverty level, according to a report released Tuesday by the business-backed Employment Policies Institute.

Comment: I know two people who have no health insurance by choice. One (a young adult) did not buy into it when the opportunity presented itself (an employee plan) - preferring to "go commando" about insurance. Another a retired millionaire did not enroll in Medicare. He pays out of pocket and negotiates the best price he can.

1 comment:

  1. Yikes, I don't think I would ever go without insurance. I have known a few people who did not have insurance and definitely regretted that choice. One, I knew in college, had a hockey accident in the late 90s. As far as I know, he is still paying it off.


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