Letter: On behalf of fewer than 47 million

The Sept. 3 column, “On behalf of 47 million …,” cites a figure of 47 million uninsured Americans. This oft-quoted statistic is actually a gross overestimation of the problem, as recent research suggests the number of Americans who cannot currently afford health insurance is much lower.

A new study by Dr. June O’Neill, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1995-’99, shows that nearly half of those uninsured Americans could likely afford to purchase health coverage. These individuals have incomes at least 2.5 times the poverty level, with the average “voluntarily uninsured” household making $65,000 per year.

We should not rush into the creation of a new, expensive healthcare system without a better understanding of the uninsured population. As long as we continue basing our arguments on inaccurate numbers, it’s hard to see how we can make effective policy decisions.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick

Washington, D.C.

Sept. 3

The writer is a senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute.


  • Kirstin, UK

    Just googled EPI –turns out they are a conservative lobby group for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries with a history of opposing any sort of health care reform.
    Just don’t confuse it with the Economic Policy Institute. Fact of the matter is the US 20,000 US citizens die every year because they cannot afford to see a doctor, 700,000 declare bankruptcy following a serious illness and the US has one of the highest infant mortality rate in the Western World, even Cuba (The Communists!! Shocker!) has a better rate. Surely health care should not be a luxury enjoyed by those who can afford it, and the recent town hall outcry across the US only re-enforces the stereotype of the “dumb Amercian” across the rest of the world.
    Try reading Obama’s view on why the US needs health care reform: http://bit.ly/1vvi2a
    But then what do I know I am from the UK where ledgend has it we have a)death pannels and b) waiting lists for everything and anything…and c) our doctors are really tribal medicine men who hold surgeries in tiny little mud huts and caves