The CBO reported that the surveys of the uninsured undercount Medicaid enrollment by 4 to 5 million Americans. These individuals are erroneously classified as uninsured. This 4 to 5 million does not include those who are Medicaid eligible who have never had the need for any significant health service and consequently have never enrolled in Medicaid. For these people, Medicaid provides a form of conditional coverage. Such people can apply for Medicaid at the time they obtain care and receive retroactive coverage for their expenses. Nearly 3 million children fell into this category, which represents approximately one-third of the uninsured children.
Explore This IssueApril 2006
The number of illegal aliens in this country has been estimated to be at least 10 million and they are overwhelmingly among those without health insurance. A recent study by the Center for Immigration Studies of immigrants from Mexico (no distinction was made whether they were legal or illegal immigrants) who have been in the US for less than 10 years demonstrated that 62.9% were uninsured. Illegal immigrants have been estimated to represent anywhere from 25% to 43% of the uninsured population.
The growth in the uninsured can be traced to the growth in the illegal alien population. The Center for Immigration Studies’ analysis of Census Bureau data demonstrates that almost three-fourths of the increase in the uninsured population over the last 15 years is due to immigrants and their children.
Finally, 4 to 5 million of the uninsured Americans in the CBO study stated that they did not have health insurance because they did not need health insurance or they did not believe in health insurance. This is not an unreasonable position if you are either very wealthy, or very healthy and poor. After all, do you think it makes economic sense for Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to purchase health insurance? Or did it make sense for me to buy health insurance when I was a medical student, had no income, and had a negative net worth?
Insurance versus Access
The most erroneous part of this myth of 40 million Americans without access to health care is the access part. No health insurance does not equate to no health care. A more appropriate, but still inaccurate, statement would be 40 million Americans have no health insurance. People without insurance are treated for free in every hospital across America. All physicians have treated patients who do not have health insurance.