Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and Health Insurance

So, does lack of health insurance really increase the risk of premature death?

In a word: Nope.

As we've seen, there's no convincing evidence that lack of health insurance correlates to lack of effective care; in fact, certain kinds of health insurance will actually lead to a decreased life expectancy.

Studies which purport to correlate death with lack of health insurance have been routinely debunked, but that hasn't stopped the uber-liberal Urban Institute from continuing to peddle its faux-science:

"[A] new report warned that without comprehensive legislation, more than 275,000 adults nationwide will die over the next decade because of a lack of health insurance. Nearly 14,000 of those deaths would occur in New York State."

Of course, these numbers are based on a previously published (and debunked) study, so there's really no new ground here.

Or is there?

Fellow medblogger Megan McArdle, herself considered "uninsurable" [ed: bet she hasn't asked Bob or Bill for help], questions not just the numbers, but the underlying assumption that lack of health insurance necessarily means lack of health care:

" [W]hen you probe that claim, its accuracy is open to question. Even a rough approximation of how many people die because of lack of health insurance is hard to reach. Quite possibly, lack of health insurance has no more impact on your health than lack of flood insurance."

She points to increased risk factors of those who are uninsured, including smoking and obesity, that could also account for increased mortality independent of insurance status. She also cites research that seems to support the opposite view: that lack of health insurance has no bearing on mortality.

Controversial? Of course, but the numbers support this contention, as well.

Recommended reading.
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