The Campaign Spot

The Mystery of the Disappearing 17 Million

Byron York was probably the first to notice that last night, Obama made a reference to 30 million uninsured, a change from previous speeches when he said 46 million or 47 million.

Megan McArdle offers some quick math: “45,657,000 people without insurance in the 2007 Census estimate.  12,388,000 of those were foreign born, and 9,737,000 were not citizens, leaving 33,269,000.  I assume Obama is leaving room to ensure that no one can claim that he is going to cover illegal immigrants (or for that matter, legal ones).  But that still leaves 3 million people unaccounted for.”

Reuters writes, “An administration official said the 30 million figure referred to ‘total uninsured minus illegal immigrants’ and a smaller group of people who fall through the cracks.”

Or, you know, it could be that all of these numbers are rough estimates, and no one is really sure of the precise number. Keep in mind the Census Bureau statistic is considered closer to an estimate of those who were uninsured at the point in time surveyed, rather than of the total number of people uninsured for the entire year. If you didn’t have it in January but got covered in May, you’re still considered uninsured in December.

Interestingly, wire service AFP just ignored Obama’s different numbers: “Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade, has led us to the breaking point,” he said promising health care for the first time to 47 million uninsured Americans.

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