EBRI: Government Overstates Number of Uninsured

February 28, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) report suggested that the federal figure indicating that individuals with a family income of above $50,000 represent 25% of the total uninsured population overstates the problem.

The actual figure, according to EBRI, is 18%. The data being used for both estimates is from the 2004 Census, according to EBRI; the difference lies in a simple quirk of the figures. Overall, the federal study indicated that over 11 million individuals with a family income over $50,000 have no health insurance. The EBRI figure stands at 7.9 million.

This is due to the fact that the government report includes 3.2 million non-student adult children living with their parents but earning less than $50,000. Because of the Census definition, EBRI reports, these people are classified as living with a family with income over the $50,000 figure. When “high-income” adult children are removed from the statistic, the figure stands at 7.9 million or 18% of the nation’s 44.7 million uninsured people.

According to EBRI, the likelihood of being uninsured increased by 1% between 1999 and 2003 for those families with income below $25,000. It increased by 3.4% for those making between $50,000 and $74,999 and increased 2.7% for those making above $75,000. EBRI noted that those with very low incomes often qualify for government programs such as Medicaid.

The EBRI findings will be published in the February issue of EBRI Notes, according to a press release from the group.