Rep. Mark Kirk: Uninsured ‘Are Overwhelmingly 20 And 30 Year Olds’

Progress Illinois is reporting that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) misled his “audience about the makeup of the uninsured population in America” during a May 10th address to the Republicans of Wheeling Township. Kirk incorrectly suggested that 15 million of the 47 million uninsured are “illegals” and that the remaining 30 million “are overwhelmingly 20 and 30 year olds working for small businesses.”

As Progress Illinois points out, Kirk oversimplifies the uninsured problem by suggesting that only undocumented Americans and young and healthy workers encounter coverage problems.

CLAIM: Fifteen million illegal aliens are uninsured.

FACT: The “National Institute for Health Care Management put the number of uninsured illegal immigrants at approximately 5.6 million,” not 15 million as Kirk suggests.


CLAIM: Americans below the poverty line have health care.

FACT: A 2007 report by the Kaiser Foundation found that in 2006, “37 percent” of Americans below the poverty level did not qualify for Medicaid and remained uninsured.

CLAIM: The uninsured are “overwhelmingly 20 and 30 year olds working for small businesses.”

FACT: Fifty-two percent of the uninsured are not in the 19–34 age range. According to the same Kaiser study, 20 percent (or 9.3 million) of the uninsured are under 18 years of age,” 39 percent of the uninsured are in the 19–34 range and 32 percent of the uninsured “are in the 35–54 age bracket.”

Moreover, today, the Commonwealth Found released a study which found that in the past four years, middle class families — not “20 and 30 year olds working for small businesses” — had the hardest time paying for health care:

The number of underinsured U.S. adults — that is, people who have health coverage that does not adequately protect them from high medical expenses — has risen dramatically…Much of this growth comes from the ranks of the middle class. While low-income people remain vulnerable, middle-income families have been hit hardest. For adults with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $40,000 per year for a family), the underinsured rates nearly tripled since 2003.