Census Says Number of Uninsured in U.S. Long Overestimated
The U.S. Census Bureau since 1995 has overestimated the number of uninsured U.S. residents because of a computer programming error, the AP/Washington Times reports.
According to revised estimates released by the bureau on Friday, about 44.8 million residents, or about 15.3% of the population, lacked health insurance in 2005. The bureau previously estimated that 46.6 million residents, or about 15.9% of the population, lacked health insurance in 2005. The bureau on Friday also released a revised estimate for 2004 and in August plans to release revised estimates for the other affected years.
Bureau employees found the computer programming error during an update of the system for the Current Population Survey, which provides data on the income, employment and health insurance status of residents. As a result of the error, the bureau improperly counted some residents as "not covered" by health insurance, according to Ruth Cymber, director of communications for the bureau. She added, "The total impact is small."
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said, "While it is certainly good news that fewer Americans are uninsured than previously reported, this raises major questions," adding, "For an agency that specializes in statistics, 1.8 million is not a minor error; it's major error" (AP/Washington Times, 3/24).