Once Again Obama Misstates Number of Uninsured Americans—This Time in a New York Times Op-Ed

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 17, 2009 | 8:25 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama for a third time has misstated the number of Americans who lack health insurance, this time doing it in an op-ed piece published Saturday by the New York Times.

“I don’t have to explain to the nearly 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance how important this is,” Obama said in the op-ed about his efforts to reform the American health care industry.

In a July 22 primetime press conference, Obama falsely said there were “47 million Americans who have no health insurance.” At an August 11 town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., he falsely said “nearly 46 million Americans don't have health insurance coverage today” and that  “46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage.”

In fact, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 35.920 million uninsured U.S. citizens and 9.737 million uninsured foreign nationals residing in the United States. Counting the uninsured foreign nationals, that makes a total of 45.657 million—or “nearly 46 million”-- uninsured people in the United States. 

But you cannot say, as President Obama has, that there are “nearly 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance coverage” or that “46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage” unless you count 9.737 million foreign nationals as “Americans” and “fellow citizens.”
The data on people lacking health insurance comes from the Census Bureau’s “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007,” which is published every August. (The Census Bureau report that will estimate the number of uninsured in 2008 will be released later this month. The current report was released on August 26, 2008.)

Table 6 on page 22 of the report says that in 2007 there were a total of 45.657 million uninsured people residing in the United States. Of these 45.657 million uninsured, 33.269 million were native born citizens and 2.651 million were naturalized citizens, for a total of 35.920 million U.S. citizens uninsured.

Another 9.737 million uninsured persons in the United States are listed by the Census Bureau as “not a citizen.” The Census Bureau does not ask people their legal status, so the report does not indicate how many of these 9.737 million uninsured foreign nationals were illegal aliens, or legal permanent residents, or foreign nationals studying or working in the United States.