16 Million Uninsured Disappeared Last Night — Where Did They Go?

The President has consistently said that 46 million Americans lack health insurance. But last night, he said, “There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.” 

Explanations range from excluding illegal immigrants, people who are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled, and those who are not poor or near poor. The problem is that if the Administration actually added these numbers, they would total far more than 16 million. The administration says there are about 10 million illegal immigrants who wouldn’t be eligible. While the administration says 5−7 million people are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled, Kaiser (pg. 3) found that “a quarter of the uninsured (11 million) are eligible for public programs but not enrolled.” And if you only include the poor or near poor (defined as people below 200 percent of FPL, according to another estimate from Kaiser (pg. 4)), that would exclude about 15 million people who earn more than 200 percent FPL. So adding up these categories, this would exclude 36 million people from the 46 million uninsured, putting the number closer to 10 million people who cannot get affordable coverage. It is unclear where the Administration got their numbers, but it’s a positive step that they are acknowledging that the uninsured are not all the same.

Comments (14)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    Very goood post. You should do more of this.

  2. Larry C. says:

    Oops. We just lost 16 million people. You expect us to buy this?

  3. Bret says:

    If one-third of the uninsured have vanished, why hasn’t the cost of the program been reduced by one-third?

  4. Bret says:

    The good thing here is that people will begin to question all these numbers. The closer they look, the more they will become aware that the numbers are phoney.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    I too heard the “30 million cannot get coverage” remark. I wasn’t sure what President Obama meant, but I assumed he was parroting a flawed factoid that attributes two-thirds of the uninsured to pre-existing conditions. Liberals rarely admit that being turned down for insurance isn’t the same as being uninsurable. The vast majority of people turned down can get coverage with higher deductibles or exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

  6. Bart Ingles says:

    If I’m reading this right, if you drop income as a qualifier and assume anyone uninsured who isn’t poor must be uninsurable, you get 25 million as the top end. In other words, without speculating on which of these are actually uninsurable, you get a range of 10 to 25 million. Still lower than Obama’s figure.

  7. Clark says:

    Bart, most of the uninsured are healthy. I believe as a group they are actually healthier than the insured.

  8. Boscobobb says:

    Let me put it into easy to comprehend terms. We’re all Americans. When al Qaeda decided to attack the U.S. 8 years ago, we ALL shared the risk equally. Some of us were fortunate not to be on certain planes, in certain buildings, or in a remote Pennsylvania field 8 years ago. To think your survival was because you were taking less of a risk is absurd, isn’t it?

    When it came time to send the US Military after al Qaeda, we didn’t say, “those people in Manhattan and D.C. should pay more taxes because they are in a higher risk pool.”

    That sounds absurd, doesn’t it? So why is health care any different?

  9. Bart Ingles says:

    Boscobobb, you’re right, that does sound absurd. Here’s some more absurdity: why should food, housing, and employment be any different?

  10. Boscobobb says:

    The denial is massive. The uninsured are the tip of the iceberg, the canary in the coal mine, the symptom not the disease.

    When will you realize you’re uninsured?

    When you discover your private insurance denies coverage for a recommended procedure?
    When you learn your spouse has a pre-existing condition from when she had a false positive?
    When your kid gets his first job out of college but gets no coverage, then breaks his clavicle mountain biking?
    When you lose YOUR job and discover COBRA costs $18,000 a year?
    When you invent a new technology and have to choose between paying for health insurance and holding out for another 3 months while negotiating with venture capitalists?
    When you start hiring employees and your benefits rep advised against hiring people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma because it will raise your rates by over 25%?
    When you start selling your products and discover that your EU competitors have a lower cost structure because they don’t have to pay for higher insurance premiums – even though their taxes may be higher?

    Adam Smith wrote that healthy citizens make a nation more competitive. The man wasn’t prescient, he could literally see the evidence of good kingdoms and bad kingdoms and extrapolate.

  11. Mo says:

    Like Bart Said, health care is no different than food, shelter etc…

    Boscobobb: none of what you mentions makes health care anymore of a right. its nothing but an appeal to emotion.

  12. Larry C. says:

    Boscobobb has not been paying attention to what is at this site. I keep finding misrepresentations — at least by implication in all the comments sections lately.

    NCPA (alone in the health policy community?) has for years advocated personal and portable health insurance that employees carry with them from job to job and in and out of the labor market. Employers would make a defined contribution to each employee’s plan — so it would not matter whether an employee had a preexisting condition. Insurance would be guaranteed renewable, so the emergence of chronic conditions would not affect a person’s premiums.

    In short, the NCPA has been trying to solve all the problems listed above the way they are solved in the life insurance or casualty insurance markets.

    This is as opposed to socializing the system, where you are told that you won’t have any problems — except that they deny you health care.

  13. Bart Ingles says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sympathetic with many of Boscobobb’s concerns, but I think he goes way off the mark in trying to identify the causes of these problems.

    The topper is the last item, that foreign competitors have an advantage over U.S. companies because they don’t have benefits costs. Congress’s answer to this is to increase our competitive disadvantage by mandating increased employer responsibility for employees’ health coverage. Ironic, no?

  14. Bart Ingles says:

    To Larry: I think most conservative think tanks that address either health care or taxation have been addressing the portability issue for years. My first exposure was watching Heritage’s Robert Moffit’s appearance on [Brinkley?] in 1993 in response to the Clinton proposal. I still remember snapping to attention upon hearing the phrase “over-reliance on employer-provided health insurance.” I had been aware of the employer exclusion for years, mainly as a tax-fairness issue, but had never heard anyone else talk about it before then. Talk about validation…

    “Employers would make a defined contribution to each employee’s plan — so it would not matter whether an employee had a preexisting condition. Insurance would be guaranteed renewable, so the emergence of chronic conditions would not affect a person’s premiums.”

    The first sentence seems to be a non sequitur– what does a defined contribution have to do with preexisting conditions? I guess the implication is that removing defined-benefit contributions would remove the potential for moving into and out of group plans, but it would be clearer to say so explicitly.

    The second point is that if insurance is guaranteed renewable (presumably at class-average rates), and everyone maintains coverage, wouldn’t rates eventually have to rise to the point where the plans resemble community-rated coverage? Who subsidizes the people with above-average risks? I’ve never heard this addressed.