“We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women and children,” President Obama told doctors in a speech before the American Medical Association in Chicago in June. “We are not a nation that lets hardworking families go without coverage, or turns its back on those in need. We’re a nation that cares for its citizens. We look out for one another. That’s what makes us the United States of America. We need to get this done.”
And the White House Council of Economic Advisers pressed the number in its number-crunching case for a health overhaul: “Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance,” according to the report, also issued in June.
The 46 million number is a handy one — large and round — but who are the people it represents, and what does it mean for the rest of us that they don’t have insurance?