Texas once again led the nation with the highest percentage of residents without health insurance, a U.S. Census Bureau report showed Tuesday, although the same study also reports a slight dip last year in the percentage without coverage across the nation.
But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)
"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American - even illegal aliens - as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.
Earth to John McCain and John Goodman: Here are just a few realistic figures about Americans and health care:
Who are the uninsured?
* Nearly 47 million Americans, or 16 percent of the population, were without health insurance in 2005, the latest government data available.1
* The number of uninsured rose 2.2 million between 2005 and 2006 and has increased by almost 9 million people since 2000.1
* The large majority of the uninsured (80 percent) are native or naturalized citizens.2
* The increase in the number of uninsured in 2006 was focused among working age adults. The percentage of working adults (18 to 64) who had no health coverage climbed from 19.7 percent in 2005 to 20.2 percent in 2006.1 Nearly 1.3 million full-time workers lost their health insurance in 2006.
* Nearly 90 million people - about one-third of the population below the age of 65 spent a portion of either 2006 or 2007 without health coverage.3
* Over 8 in 10 uninsured people come from working families - almost 70 percent from families with one or more full-time workers and 11 percent from families with part-time workers.2
* The percentage of people (workers and dependents) with employment-based health insurance has dropped from 70 percent in 1987 to 59 percent in 2006. This is the lowest level of employment-based insurance coverage in more than a decade.4, 5
* In 2005, nearly 15 percent of employees had no employer-sponsored health coverage available to them, either through their own job or through a family member.6
* In 2006, 37.7 million workers were uninsured because not all businesses offer health benefits, not all workers qualify for coverage and many employees cannot afford their share of the health insurance premium even when coverage is at their fingertips.1
* The number of uninsured children in 2006 was 8.7 million - or 11.7 percent of all children in the U.S.1 The number of children who are uninsured increased by nearly 610,000 in 2006, the second year that the number of uninsured children increased.
* Young adults (18-to-24 years old) remained the least likely of any age group to have health insurance in 2005 - 29.3 percent of this group did not have health insurance.1
* The percentage and the number of uninsured Hispanics increased to 34.1 percent and 15.3 million in 2006.1
* Nearly 40 percent of the uninsured population reside in households that earn $50,000 or more.1 A growing number of middle-income families cannot afford health insurance payments even when coverage is offered by their employers.
Yes, McCain and Goodman - there are uninsured Americans.