News of the Day ... in Perspective8/28/2004
Percentage of uninsured unchanged
Although the Census Bureau recently reported a record number of Americans uninsured for at least part of 2003 (45 million), the percentage of uninsured Americans is exactly the same as in 1996: 15.6%. That is lower than the rate in 1997 and 1998.
One-third of the uninsured are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP but have not enrolled. They probably would be enrolled if a medical need arose.
One-third of the uninsured have incomes above $50,000 and could afford to buy insurance in most states. Some choose to buy other things, knowing that guaranteed issue laws allow them to postpone purchase until after they get sick.
About 15 million of the uninsured are in households with incomes between $25,000 and $49,000. Thus, the percentage of Americans ineligible for Medicaid and probably unable to afford coverage is around 5%. (Wall Street Journal, 8/27/04).
Covering the uninsured: the wrong goal. AAPS News, March 2003.
Insurance, health, and control, AAPS News, March 2004.