Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are people dying because the lack health insurance?

A lot of claims are being thrown around about the number of people who die each year because they don't have health insurance. If I recall, President Obama said it was 14,000 per year in his address to Congress. John Goodman says this is mostly bunk:
They’re talking about a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study [gated, but with abstract]. But between the media hype and the actual study is an enormous chasm that separates fact from fiction. In truth, the authors of the study did not establish that anybody, anywhere, died of any cause whatsoever because of a lack of health insurance.
There's also this, from from Health Services Research:
The Institute of Medicine's estimate that lack of insurance leads to 18,000 excess deaths each year is almost certainly incorrect. It is not possible to draw firm causal inferences from the results of observational analyses, but there is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.
Correction: My recollection failed me. (Serves me right for being too lazy to look it up.) Obama didn't claim that 14,000 die each year due to lack of health insurance. He claimed that 14,000 lose their health insurance each year -- a claim that is also false.

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