The Kaiser Family Foundation’s State Health Facts website gives a wide variety of statistics detailing health insurance in America. The study finds that there are 45.5 million uninsured non-elderly individuals (16% of the total non-elderly population). Out of this total 4.1 million (9% of the uninsured) are poor children and 12.6 million (28% of the uninsured) are poor adults.
While these numbers are large, they may be overstated. The 1997 Balance Budget Act created the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan by which states were required to offer insurance to all children in poor households. Thus, the balance of the 4.1 million children must be composed of a) illegal immigrants, b) children in households where their parents decided not to sign them up for SCHIP or c) poor bureaucratic implementation of the progam in certain states.
Also, the 12.6 million figure for poor adults may be overstated as well. While these individuals may not have insurance, many poor individuals who undergo hospital procedures are signed up for Medicaid at the hospital. Thus, although these individuals are technically uninsured, in reality they do have access to health insurance. All poor adults are not eligible for Medicaid, however. Most single males between the ages of 18 and 65 who are do not qualify for Social Security Disability also do not qualify for Medicaid.
The extent to which these figures are overestimated, however, is difficult to calculate.
The State Health Facts numbers come from the Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates based on the Census Bureau’s March 2004 and 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS: Annual Social and Economic Supplements)