National Center for Policy Analysis, December 10, 2008
The U.S. Census Bureau’s report on health insurance statistics, which showed a decrease in the number of Americans uninsured last year, has been called into question by experts for overestimating and oversimplifying the number of uninsured.
According to Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute:
- Of the estimated 17.5 million uninsured Americans, a majority make more than $50,000 a year, which means they are likely able to afford health insurance but choose not to purchase it.
- In addition, 10 million of the uninsured are non-citizens and 14 million are already eligible for government-sponsored health insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, but have not enrolled.
- That means only about 8 million Americans are chronically uninsured, cannot afford health insurance, and are not eligible for federal programs.
The reason for this disjunction stem from problems within the government, explains Pipes:
- One problem is the “hidden taxes” on health insurance; inadequate reimbursements to providers by government health care programs raise costs for those with private insurance.
- Government programs also pay so little, that it raises the prices for everyone else by 10 percent.
A good solution would be for government programs to give people vouchers to purchase private insurance, putting people in charge of their own health care. If we could reduce some of these 1,900 benefit mandates throughout the country, we could lower healthcare costs, says Pipes.
Source: James P. Gelfand, “Less Government Involvement Holds Key to Affordable Health Insurance, Experts Say,” Health Care News (Heartland Institute), December 2008.
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