Critical Condition

90 Percent of Americans Are Insured — and Nearly Everyone Agrees

As my piece in today’s New York Post details, we have much better data on the number of uninsured than we think. The Census says that 90% of Americans are insured, and President Obama effectively agrees.

Also, well over half of the uninsured are already quite capable of buying insurance if they want it (according to Census figures). Only 5% of American citizens are uninsured and making less than the median family income.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee bill would leave us with 6% uninsured, according to the CBO). That’s after spending nearly $1 trillion over ten years — really five years — before spending nearly $3 trillion in the decade to follow (according to the CBO).

The Census notes that 46 million people were listed as uninsured in its survey. In the very same table, it notes that 9 million of those people aren’t Americans, but are citizens of other nations.

But another fact has been neglected to a far greater extent: The Census writes — again in the very same document where the figure of 46 million appears — that “health-insurance coverage is underreported” in its survey. The Census explains that when it cross-checked its survey results with the official Medicaid rolls, it found that 16.9 percent of those on Medicaid had incorrectly claimed on their Census forms that they were uninsured. That 16.9 percent amounts to another 9 million people.

So, as I write in my piece, the actual tally, according to the most authoritative source we have, is just 28 million uninsured citizens (46 million minus 9 million non-citizens, minus 9 million on Medicaid who were falsely recorded as uninsured).

That leaves us with 90.0% percent of American citizens covered by health insurance, according to the Census. President Obama has recently been using the figure of “more than 30 million American citizens” who are uninsured. According to the Census, 30 million is 10.7% of Americans, leaving 89.3%. That’s not quite 90%, but it’s close enough for government work.

Furthermore, according to the Census, nearly half of the uninsured (citizens and non-citizens alike) have higher incomes than most American families — and more than a quarter make more than $75,000 a year.

In this light, Do we really want to overhaul our health-care system, dramatically increase government control, and spend nearly $1 trillion over ten years (and nearly $3 trillion in the decade to follow) to raise the tally of Americans with insurance from 90% to 94%?