NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Reform Fails to Fix Uninsured Problem

December 7, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced that 59.1 million Americans went without health insurance for at least part of this year -- an all-time high.  The CDC estimate comes on the heels of a report from the Census Bureau that arrived at a similar conclusion.  Supporters of ObamaCare have seized on these findings to make their case for the law to an increasingly skeptical American public, says Sally C. Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute.

Unfortunately, there's far more to this story than meets the eye.

  • The data gathered by the CDC survey more closely approximate "the number of people who were uninsured at a specific point in time during the year than the number of people uninsured for the entire year."
  • The Census and CDC figures also fail to account for the millions of uninsured who are eligible for existing government insurance programs but haven't signed up -- roughly one in four Americans without coverage qualify for government-provided care.
  • Many other uninsured Americans voluntarily go without insurance -- some 10.6 million people with household incomes of more than $75,000 lack coverage.

Even if the uninsured problem is exaggerated, won't ObamaCare help the country achieve universal coverage?

Sadly, the trillion-dollar answer is no.  The new law, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will still leave 23 million Americans without coverage by 2019.

That's because ObamaCare does nothing to address the fundamental problem with health care in the United States -- our employer-based health insurance system, says Pipes.

The new law actually strengthens the link between employment and insurance.  In fact, by requiring plans to offer expensive benefits that most people don't need, ObamaCare makes it even more difficult for individuals who can't get coverage through work to find affordable insurance.

If Americans -- rather than their employers -- owned their insurance policies, then they could take them from job to job and remain insured if they lost their jobs, says Pipes.

Source: Sally C. Pipes, "Reform Fails To Fix Uninsured Problem," Investor's Business Daily, November 24, 2010.

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