While debating healthcare reform, many people on the left liked to heave emotionally-charged statements like “well, I guess if you’re against this, you’re ok with X number of people dying each year from not being covered.” I won’t address the absurdity of reducing the healthcare debate down to a simple matter of caring whether X people die or not.
The true issue is the validity of the point that lacking health insurance causes early death. Surely, health insurance must help, because what else would it be for? Megan McArdle begs to differ:
The possibility that no one risks death by going without health insurance may be startling, but some research supports it. Richard Kronick of the University of California at San Diego’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, an adviser to the Clinton administration, recently published the results of what may be the largest and most comprehensive analysis yet done of the effect of insurance on mortality. He used a sample of more than 600,000, and controlled not only for the standard factors, but for how long the subjects went without insurance, whether their disease was particularly amenable to early intervention, and even whether they lived in a mobile home. In test after test, he found no significantly elevated risk of death among the uninsured.
I am willing to accept that people overstate the dire need for health coverage for prolonging death or living a generally healthy life (good diet and exercise does more than any medicine can do, in my expert medical opinion). But what does health coverage do if it doesn’t give longer life expectancy? Why do we see a positive correlation between life expectancy and development in countries’ medical technology?
Maybe the difference is between living a long and healthy life versus living a long and miserably unhealthy life. Nonetheless, this seems to defy all common sense, in my opinion. Lesson learned? Before we hurl insults at people against ObamaCare mentioning their disdain for hugs, puppies, or poor people living longer, we need to get down to the actual facts.