The '40 Million Uninsured' Myth

Michael Moore claimed in his movie “SiCKO” that there are 50 million uninsured Americans, according to his own Web site. But he’s wrong.He’s certainly not alone though. So were President Bush, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) as well as The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, CBS and ABC just to name a few.

“It’s really indefensible that we now have more than 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million of whom are children, and the vast majority of whom are from working families,” said Sen. Hillary Clinton in a May 31 speech.

ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson cited the incorrect data as he praised a "bold" and "politically brilliant" universal coverage plan on the April 26 “Good Morning America.”

“It’s bold because it does propose to cover all Americans, including the 47 million now who are uninsured, within five years,” said Johnson.

Each of these people and media outlets incorrectly claimed the number of uninsured to be between 40 and 50 million Americans. But the number of the uninsured who aren’t citizens is nearly 10 million on its own according to the Census Bureau, invalidating all the claims of 40+ million “Americans” without health insurance.Moore should have paid attention to that fact, since he agrees that being “an American” matters to get health insurance.

“That’s the only preexisting condition that should exist. I am an American. That’s it,” said Moore in footage aired by ABC’s “Nightline” on June 13.

But that isn’t the only problem with the numbers being used to stir up support for socialized medicine. There are also roughly 17 million people who can afford their own insurance – they make $50,000 or more a year. Journalists and politicians also frequently neglect to mention that 45 percent of the uninsured will be insured again within four months, according to the Congressional Budget Office.It seems to me Michael Moore (and quite a few others) have “fudged” some facts.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.