New Uninsured Study Doesn't Match Author's Rhetoric

NCPA Experts Say Solution To Uninsured Is Making It Personal, Portable

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 6, 2003) -- According to health policy experts with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), a study on the number of Americans without health insurance released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Families USA "doesn't match the rhetoric of its authors."

"The study's authors want you to believe that the number of the uninsured is larger than even their own data indicate," said Michael F. Cannon, NCPA Director of Governmental Affairs. "As their study shows, most people who lose their health coverage regain it over time. Rather than trying to overstate the problem, we need to concentrate on solutions that make coverage more affordable, personal and portable."

According to the NCPA, while the author's statements suggest there are significantly more uninsured Americans than previously believed, their study does just the opposite. For example:

  • The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates 41 million Americans lacked health insurance for all of 2001. Yet the RWJ/Families USA study shows that about 32 million Americans lacked health insurance for a year or more in between 2001 and 2002.
  • Comparing "apples to apples," the study shows there are fewer chronically uninsured Americans than commonly believed.
  • The CPS was never intended to measure health insurance and contains biases that exaggerate the uninsured. The authors instead rightly used data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which paints a more accurate and complete picture of the uninsured, most of whom only suffer temporary spells of uninsurance.

"Making health insurance more portable and more affordable is essential to reducing the number of uninsured," said Cannon. "We need to provide people who must purchase insurance on their own with the same generous subsidy given those who receive it as a benefit of employment, and increase access to programs such as medical savings accounts."

Contact the NCPA's Public Affairs office at 800-859-1154 for more on the problem and solutions to the uninsured.