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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This Health Care Fiction Will Not Die

There is a fiction about health insurance which simply will not die. It's the fiction which inspired Alan Grayson to proclaim that Republicans want patients to die, and which surfaces in almost every pro-Obamacare talking point.

The fiction is that 45,000 people (or thereabouts) die each year "from lack of insurance." This number emanates from a study released by researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School. As I documented in my prior post, Grayson Death Number is Fiction, this number is based on assumptions and mathematical modeling bearing no relationship to reality.

Moreover, the study has no means of comparison to anything likely to happen with health care restructuring. The study assumes unlimited health care services given to everyone, and then models how the current health care system doesn't meet up with that standard. But no one, not even the "one nation, one plan" types, assumes that there are unlimited health care resources.

The 45,000 number is like the CBO estimates. The model makes assumptions which must be considered as true, and the calculation follows even if the assumptions are unrealistic. That is the beauty of mathematical modeling; the calculation is not the problem, the model is. But when it comes to health care politics, the only part of the analysis which gets attention is the calculation, not the underlying assumptions, just as the only portion of the CBO analysis which gets attention is the "score."

The 45,000 number resurfaces today in a post at Firedoglake arguing that we are irrational to worry about terrorism because so few people die from terrorism relative to the 45,000 who die from lack of health insurance. As is typical, the post links only to a description of the study, not to the actual study (which I link to and examine in my prior post).

Putting aside the illogic of the argument about terrorism-related deaths (the terror is the problem, not just the deaths), the health care fiction once again makes its way into the public debate. It's the fiction which just keeps giving.

When will this fiction finally die?

Want a real number, base not on modeling but on an actual study of patients? Try this: 10,000 Unnecessary Cancer Deaths (in Britain). That is our future. It's real, not fiction. And it's something that no one wants to talk about.

Related Posts:
Nothing Wrong With Nationalized Health Care, Move Along
Dems Stuck With Blog Hero Grayson
Are Our Liberties Worth Only $200-$500?

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  1. The left appears to be promoting two mutually contradictory myths concerning the uninsured. The first is the one discussed in your post; it's the idea that the uninsured receive no health care and therefore are dying off in droves due to the absence of insurance. The second is that the uninsured routinely obtain care through emergency rooms and other public sources without paying for such services, the cost of which is unfairly passed along to other patients and taxpayers.

    Clearly, both of these assertions cannot be true. Either the uninsured are receiving care, in which case they are not dying for lack of medical attention; or they are not receiving care, in which case they are not adding to the costs being borne by the rest of the population.

  2. I just did a quick search and found a Wiki page citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data indicating between 42,000 and 43,300 people died in motor vehicle accidents each year between 2000-2008. That's comparable to the number Grayson claims die each year because they don't have health insurance.

    If the Left is concerned about people dying unfairly, there is only one viable option to solve the problem of 40,000+ people dying in motor vehicle accidents each year.

    The Left needs to pressure Congress and the President to enact legislation outlawing motor vehicles to save the 40,000+ lives of those who die on our roads each year.

  3. I'm going to outdo the previous poster with an even more impressive stat:

    "Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion."


  4. Let's introduce Government-Run Hamburger and Fried Chicken Joints because Gov't can help lower obesity rate.

  5. Obviously you don't live in New York, Aucturian.

  6. "Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion."

    Calculating the health care costs of the obesity is not so easy... One must also figure in the 'savings' from having less Social Security and Medicare payouts from dying early. Generally, everyone runs up a big health care bill in their last years, regardless of when that occurs.

    The obese may have a slightly higher per capita cost over all, but there's plenty of folks who aren't obese with diabetes, cancer, heart or other health issues who run up big health care bills.

    Bottomline is healthy living styles is NOT likely to be promoted in any form of coverage that significantly removes individual responsibility from the process.

  7. Everybody is missing the point. That folks are dying because they do not have health insurance. Why is this? Why should one person ever die from not having a method to pay for a treatment? And how many more would die if it wasn’t for charity, telethons, free clinics. As a vet, I shudder to think how many of us would die without free VA care. I have been in Dr. offices and specialist and have witnessed first hand how folks w/o insurance are treated when compared to me. (Horribly). I had a major accident in 2005. My ER bill alone was $6500. I paid a co pay of $25.00 through my health plan at work. Does anyone think I would have had the same treatment if I presented w/o insurance?

  8. Actually, I'm from Queens. As for the way 'Specialist' treat people w/O insurance... could it be because the 'Specialist' would have to now treat the patient out of pocket or get reimbursed under paltry medicaid/medicare rates?

    For the record, no one is dying from lack of insurance. Not when there's a Medicaid clinic in Jackson Heights that treats my neighborhood of predominantly migrant workers (legal and otherwise). Just ask the woman who operates my favorite taco stand.

    And Michael, be thankful that you're geting free VA care. Because that's all taxpayers can barely support now. There isn't enough left in my paycheck to support Obamacare.

  9. Michael -- it is you who is missing the point. There is a huge difference between health care and health insurance.

    A few years back, I was a witness to a horrible road accident on a winter's night. Coyotes running a van over-stuffed with illegal immigrants crashed in a rural area. About 20 dead & injured.

    The emergency medical resources of 3 counties fought through bad conditions to render aid. Medical evacuation helicopters ran shuttle service to the distant hospitals. The governor of the state could not have received better attention.

    And everyone involved in giving those people the best health care possible knew that there would be no health insurance payout.

  10. Does Queens have the "You're drinking fat!" commercials too, Aucturian? How far does the whole "Bloomberg" nanny thing reach?

    And you're all missing the point. No one should die for any reason, ever. If we only have to increase our taxes by infinity to make life perfect forever and ever, then shouldn't we?

  11. Michael - as someone who once had no insurance and had to go to an ER: Yes, I doubt you would have been treated differently.

    Could it be that you were treated with more deference because you're a Vetran? Presuming you presented with Tri-Care, every employee who works in health care knows that means current or former military.

    ERs are NOT ALLOWED to turn anyone away due to lack of ability to pay. There are special rules already in place which let them write-off those expenses. Yes, that means we're getting stuck with the bill, but at least I'm only getting stuck with the bill for the uninsured (ish- yes, I know taxes pay for Medicaid, Medicare, and TriCare).

    The fact of the matter is that NO ONE ON EARTH dies from lack of insurance. This would be like saying someone died from lack of a car.

    People die from injury, disease, natural causes, and - to a lesser extent - lack of care. One does not necessarilly need insurance to receive care. Many, in fact, skip insurance all together (on purpose) because it's cheaper for them to do so and pay for their few medical expenses out of pocket.

    No one has a Right (in the sense of Natural Rights, like Life, Liberty, and Property) to health care. You do not have the Right to anyone elses labor- and that includes doctors, nurses, and their support staff.

  12. Oy! For the last time. No body's dying. My parents didn't immigrate here to put up with wannabe-Socialists who think they have the right to appropriate more of my paycheck to "...make life perfect..." for someone else.

    Spend a night in the South Bronx and tell me if decades of generous welfare spending has made life perfect. Wear a bullet vest and have a taco while you're at it.