Who’s Uninsured and Why?

A longstanding cry for health care reform has been “cover the uninsured.” But who are the uninsured and what do we know about them? Deven Herrick of the National Center for Policy Analysis looks at the latest numbers from the Census Bureau:

  • The number of people without insurance has increased, but largely from population growth and immigration;
  • “The proportion of people without health insurance in 2008 is virtually unchanged from a decade earlier,” about 15 percent;
  • 13.7 million people live in households that qualify for Medicaid and SCHIP (not great programs, but if you want to “cover the uninsured,” they would be covered if they just filled out the paperwork);
  • 3 to 6 million people say they are uninsured but are actually covered by Medicaid or SCHIP;
  • 9.7 million people live in households that have an annual income of $75,000 — not exactly candidates for government “charity”;
  • 15 million people live in households with incomes between $25,000 and $50,000 — they don’t qualify for Medicaid, but for them, paying $12,000 a year for insurance may not be the rational thing to do.

In other words, “the uninsured” are not all the same. Herrick recommends several steps to make health insurance and health care more affordable to all.

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Cross-posted from State House Call.