Study: Uninsured Not A “Crisis”

Conservative economist June O’Neill of  City University of New York and the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) says there’s no “crisis” of the uninsured in the United States.  She says the widely used estimate of 47 million uninsured Americans is misleading.  In a new study, she and co-author David O’Neill also of CUNY, say 18 million uninsured Americans aged 18-64 are actually “voluntarily uninsured,”  and could afford to buy healthcare if they chose.

They also say policy proposals dramatically overestimate the cost of providing affordable health insurance, because policymakers don’t understand the rest of the uninsured.  They add solutions should cost far less than the $1.6 trillion Congressional Budget officials estimated for proposals that would address only two-thirds of the problem.

“We urge policymakers not to rush the healthcare debate,” said June O’Neill in a written statement.  “This new information will (help) policymakers target those truly ‘at risk’ and decrease the cost of covering the uninsured.” 

Using data from a number of surveys, O’Neill says “(t)he uninsured… obtain about half the amount of health services received by the insured population.  The lower health status of the involuntarily uninsured could be attributed to their level of education, income, and even lifestyle habits (such as smoking and obesity), more than the mere fact that they do not carry health insurance.”

This kind of information is crucial to the national debate on healthcare.  As a Democratic Congress and the Obama administration hurry to finish a job President Bill Clinton thought he could accomplish, the true scope and depth of the problem of the uninsured can be manipulated.  News reports regularly characterize the problem of the uninsured as “critical” but a careful analysis of the details has been unavailable until now.

Critics will point out that O’Neill was Director of the Congressional Budget Office herself in the mid-1990’s when Congress and the Clinton White House wrangled over health reform, and never could solve America’s healthcare troubles during the days when it would have been, oh, so much less expensive.

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One Response to “Study: Uninsured Not A “Crisis””

  1. Tony Says:

    People will not buy insurance for many reasons. That they don’t trust the insurance companies to deliver them the health care that they need if they did have insurance, maybe? In the USA, a purely capitalist system, who is going to trust corporate for-profit insurance companies anyway? These companies such as Kaiser need some competition from a government run insurance so that there will be level competition. You are living in some kind of an American fantasy world if you think a person would rather not be insured. People in American society are so used to having a feeling of insecurity that some of them don’t even know what it feels like to have security and to have health insurance.

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