Health care reform

Obama Cuts the Number of Uninsured People by One-Third


During his interview with CBS news anchor Katie Couric on Sunday, President Obama said he wants to "make sure that the 30 million people who don't have health insurance can get it." Obama and his underlings have been using that figure since last fall at least. It corresponds, conveniently enough, to the number of people the Congressional Budget Office estimates would obtain coverage under the Senate health care bill. But it is about one-third smaller than the 46 million people in the United States who, according to Census Bureau survey data, lacked health insurance at some point in 2008. OMB Director Peter Orszag explains the discrepancy this way:

The Census report indicates that of the 46 million uninsured individuals, 34 million were native born and 2.8 million were naturalized citizens. The report thus shows that there were 36.8 million uninsured U.S. citizens (native born and naturalized) in 2008. An alternative calculation includes legal immigrants, which based on a figure from the Pew Hispanic Center would bring the total to something like 39 million.

The administration's number, then, is designed to exclude noncitizens, presumably to emphasize that they are not eligible for the subsidies that would be provided by the Senate or House health care bills (although Republicans have argued that they would nevertheless be able to obtain them). As Orszag notes, limiting the count to citizens yields an estimate of about 37 million, and the president often refers to "more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage."

But it is not true that all 37 million "cannot get coverage." More than one-fifth of the uninsured have annual household incomes of $50,000 or more, and another quarter or so are either already covered by existing government programs (but misreported their status) or could be (but failed to apply). Most of the uninsured are 18-to-34-year-olds, many of whom may decide to go without medical coverage because they think that, being young and healthy, they won't need it. Obama's individual insurance mandate—which would require such people to purchase coverage they don't want so they can subsidize care for older, sicker policyholders—implicitly concedes that many Americans lack insurance not because they "cannot get coverage" but because they choose not to get it. The number of Americans who lack insurance because they cannot obtain it is surely substantially smaller than Obama says it is—an important point to keep in mind as he continues to insist that covering "30 million people" is a minimum requirement for health care reform.


NEXT: Is Uncompensated Care a Problem?

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  1. It’s also a different number than what the democrats constantly used before the health care bills took their shape.

    1. Numbers, schmumbers, people are dropping like flies because of mean people who won’t give them free healthcare.

    2. Pelosi Aide: Democrats Have Settled on Reconciliation [Daniel Foster]

      Via Washington Examiner and

      “In comments reported by Congress Daily, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top health care aide Wendell Primus admitted top Democrats have already decided on the strategy to pass the Senate’s pro-abortion, government-run health care bill.

      “Primus explained that the Senate will use the controversial reconciliation strategy that will have the House approve the Senate bill and both the House and Senate okaying changes to the bill that the Senate will sign off on by preventing Republicans from filibustering.

      “‘The trick in all of this is that the president would have to sign the Senate bill first, then the reconciliation bill second, and the reconciliation bill would trump the Senate bill,’ Primus said at the National Health Policy Conference hosted by Academy Health and Health Affairs.

      “‘There’s a certain skill, there’s a trick, but I think we’ll get it done,’ he said.”


  2. whats a couple of million amongst friends (without benefits)?


  3. “46 million people in the United States who, according to Census Bureau survey data, lacked health insurance at some point in 2008.”

    So, assuming an individual reported going even one day between jobs, would he/she be counted among the “uninsured”?

  4. My sister gets really mad at me when I refer to apartment dwellers like her as “homeless” cause they don’t own a home.

    In the same vein as the “homeless”, I dub the “30 million” who don’t have health insurance as having “out-of-network coverage”.

  5. Obama Cuts the Number of Uninsured People by One-Third

    They were all drafted into the army and shipped overseas . . . just like FDR did in WWII.

    1. What about rounding up people for the camps, Berry?

  6. Most of the uninsured are 18-to-34-year-olds, many of whom may decide to go without medical coverage because they think that, being young and healthy, they won’t need it.

    Well, we will make them need it! It is their patriotic duty to buy insurance to keep the Ponzi scheme alive!

    1. A coupla broken kneecaps might convince some o youse librarians dat payin for healt care insurance is…good for your healt.


      1. You don’t scare me Guido. I just gave Don Rickles a shotgun and we are waiting for you at my place.

  7. many Americans lack insurance not because they “cannot get coverage” but because they choose not to get it

    That’s what I said:

    I cannot (bring myself to) get coverage.

  8. It is tragic that we as a great nation can’t figure out a solution to the uninsured situation. Other countries have already done it and it seems the same”pride” that got us to the top will ironically bring us to our knees if we don’t embrace change. Until then, we have to take advantage of existing programs. There are at least two of them which I feel everyone needs to know about. One is the “Patient Assistance Program” and two are free discount prescription cards that exist. I know of a site
    ( which goes over both .I hope this helps until we as a people truly realize we are only as strong as our weakest link.

  9. “robin, You are … THE WEAKEST LINK!!”

  10. So basically, if 0bama’s lackeys somehow ram through that nightmare bill of theirs nationalizing the health care system, people will be forced to buy insurance?

    And the far-left wackos believe the insurance companies are actually dead-set against this scheme that would line their corporate pockets so handsomely if it passed… why, again? If Republicans finally succeed at strangling this wretched bill, it won’t be any kind of victory for the insurance companies.

    1. Might have something to do with once everybody is forced to buy insurance the “good people running the government” will tell the insurance companies what to cover and how much to charge. It’s not Communist Socialism that way. Just regulation.

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