NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 17, 2009

At a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wis., last week, President Obama spoke of the need to cover the "46 million people who don't have health insurance."  At another point he simply referred to the "46 million uninsured."  At neither point did he refer to them as "Americans," says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

That was wise, because not all them are, says the Census Bureau:

  • According to "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States," a Census Bureau report published last August, of the 45.6 million persons in the United States that did not have health insurance at some point in 2007, 9.7 million, or about 21 percent, were not U.S. citizens.
  • The Census Bureau does not ask if anyone is here legally or illegally, so we can't tell how many are actually illegal aliens; we do know that throughout the Southwest and elsewhere, emergency rooms have been overburdened by a continuous flood of illegal aliens.
  • Also among the uninsured are 17 million Americans who live in households where the annual income exceeds $50,000; 7 million of those without coverage have incomes of $75,000 a year or more.

The notion that the uninsured are without health care is bogus, as well, says IBD:

  • They consumed an estimated $116 billion worth of health care in 2008, according to the advocacy group Families USA.
  • Many of the uninsured are young and healthy (40 percent are between ages 18 and 34) and at this point in their lives, particularly in this economy, choose to put their dollars elsewhere.

Subtract noncitizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it, and the number of uninsured falls dramatically.  "Many Americans are uninsured by choice," wrote Dr. David Gratzer in his book "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care."

Gratzer cited a study of the "non-poor uninsured" from the California HealthCare Foundation.

"Why the lack of insurance (among people who own homes and computers)?" Gratzer asks.  "One clue is that 60 percent reported being in excellent health or very good health."

Source: Editorial, "The Phantom Uninsured," Investor's Business Daily, June 16, 2009.


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