Number of Uninsured May Be Overstated, Studies Suggest
The oft-cited figures of Americans without health insurance coverage are vastly overstated, according to a new report.
The number of Americans without health insurance — one of the most watched and worrisome indicators of economic well-being — may be overstated by as much as 20%, according to research conducted for the government. That could mean 9 million fewer uninsured, reducing the total to 36 million from the 45 million reported for 2003, the latest year for which data are available.
The over-count appears to stem from technical problems with the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, but its implications could have broad consequences for the healthcare debate and for a federal child health program that uses survey data to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to the states. Politically, “there would be a lot less interest in dealing with the uninsured if it turned out there weren’t so many,” said Joseph Antos, a health policy analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. “There would be accusations that [the administration] was rigging the numbers to make a serious problem go away.”