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.