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Fact or fiction? Small fraction to stay uninsured

Under the House bill, only a small percentage of the population would remain uninsured. fact-checks this claim — and more.

Claim: Under the House bill, only a small percentage of the population would remain uninsured.

A primary purpose of the insurance reform has been to expand the number of insured people. "Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy," President Obama told Congress last September. "We are the only advanced democracy on Earth, the only wealthy nation, that allows such hardships for millions of its people." The House-passed bill would give uninsured people subsidies to get coverage, penalize those who don’t purchase insurance, and expand Medicaid for low-income people. Will the bill accomplish the goal of covering all the uninsured?

Fact or fiction?
Fact. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the House bill becomes law, 263 million, or 94 percent, of non-elderly residents, will be insured by 2019, up from about 217 million (81 percent) today. It would leave about 18 million non-elderly residents uninsured. Why? One-third would be illegal immigrants. Congress could grant them legal status, thus making them eligible for insurance, or, if not, they could be deported, or stay in the United States, still uninsured. Another reason for the residual uninsured, according to Urban Institute economist Linda Blumberg: The House bill exempts some people from the insurance mandate because coverage won't be available to them at a price deemed to be "affordable." Blumberg said the subsidies "are not designed to make coverage affordable for everyone," since Congress wants to keep the cost of the insurance overhaul under $900 billion in the first 10 years.

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