47 Million Uninsured, Give or Take Several Million

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Morris

Dick Morris has a few questions for Hillary over at RealClearPolitics, including:

You base your healthcare proposal on the need to cover 47 million "uninsured Americans." Since about a third of them are illegal immigrants and another third are eligible for Medicaid right now and just don't apply for it, aren't you overstating the problem?

Econoblogger Greg Mankiw takes exception to the much repeated 47 million figure as well:

A serious estimate would take out both illegal immigrants and those who are eligible for Medicaid but have not applied. Those eligible for Medicaid can always enroll once they need significant medical care.

In addition, I would exclude those who were offered employer-provided health insurance but declined coverage, and those that are healthy and making more than, say, $50,000 a year. These two groups are choosing to roll the dice. According to estimates I have seen, they make up more than a quarter of the uninsured.

Wow. Even Mankiw's commenters are well-informed:

The Center for Disease Control's National Health Interview survey[PDF] also provides statistics on the uninsured. They report that 41 million Americans did not have health insurance at the time of the survey (Jan-Mar, 2007). One significant statistic was the trend in insurance coverage of Americans under 18:

% of children w/o insurance
1997….13.9
1998….12.8
1999….11.8
2000….12.3
2001….11.0
2002….10.5
2003….10.1
2004…..9.6
2005…..8.9
2006…..9.3
2007…..8.5

More on the stubborn uninsured here.