A recent study is being touted as proof that “more than 44,000” * U.S. citizens per year die because they have no insurance. Sounds terrible, but rather than slurping down this so-called “scientific evidence” hook line and sinker (as “Dumbass Dougie” would do), I looked behind the scenes and analyzed their methodology. Lo and behold, I’m sensing either a liberal agenda (Hey, let’s create a bogus study that supports ObamaCare!?) or gross stupidity (third, remote possibility–they are trying to convince those without insurance to purchase private insurance). Could go either way.
First, I did not purchase the actual study, but the abstract of the study shows gross errors in judgment of those in charge of the study, IMHO. “After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die (hazard ratio=1.40; 95% CI=1.06, 1.84) than those with insurance.”
My question is, why adjust for anything? For instance, if the “uninsured” are more likely to be fat, or smokers, or lazy, or drunks, etc., why “adjust” for that? Wouldn’t that be important to know, as it would affect the conclusion of the study. In other words, instead of the conclusion “the uninsured were more likely to die than the insured”, a more proper conclusion might be “the uninsured are more likely to be obese lazy drunken smokers than the insured.” [Note: I'm not saying it is true, I'm saying why adjust anything? Just throw all the uninsured in and compare them with all the insured, that would give you the true results instead of doctored up results.]
And I see further evidence that the results of this study are being skewed to fit some political agenda, and/or those in charge of the study are guilty of gross stupidity. The Scientific American published this regarding the study: “The findings show that uninsured Americans—between the ages of 17 and 64—have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have private insurance. (Those enrolled in government insurance programs, such as Medicaid and Department of Veterans Affairs insurance, were excluded from the study.)” [Emphasis added.]
Those in charge of the study unilaterally removed recipients of Medicare and Medicaid and Veterans Affairs insurance from the study. Why? Those three programs are “insurance.” Why are they cherry picking who will be considered “insured”? Come on, people, if those marvelous Government run insurance programs work so well, include those recipients in the study. A more interesting study would be to see how the death rate compares between those programs along with SCHIP and those who have private insurance. If government run health insurance is so wonderful, it ought to meet or exceed the death rate for private insurance.
Here is a random guess: I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that including those recipients would increase the number of those with “health insurance” who died, thereby making the statistical differences between the uninsured and the insured to be statistically meaningless. From years as a lawyer, I’ve observed that those on Medicaid have a high proportion of people who have medical problems. Often, the reason people are poor is because they have severe health problems. Also, those who are poorer in America are often more obese and more likely to smoke than those better off. Obesity and smoking affect death rate, so just by magically excluding Medicaid recipients, the death rate for those who are insured is almost guaranteed to be reduced, and thereby to appear better when compared to those who are uninsured.
So in short, it appears to me that the authors of the study have an agenda, and their agenda is either 1) to advocate for universal coverage, or 2) to advocate that having private health insurance is healthier than having no insurance. Or, the authors are just idiots, a conclusion which I reject. My advice to the authors would be to just start all over again, and quit playing games with the numbers, compare all those with insurance to all those without insurance. Alternatively, run a different study and compare all those with private health insurance to all those with government run health insurance to all those without insurance.
I have a sneaking suspicion which one of those groups would beat the other two groups hands-down. And I have a similar suspicion that the majority of Americans would share that suspicion if they actually thought about it, and that that is one reason a majority of Americans opposes a single payer government run health insurance plan.
Don’t just blindly accept the results of scientific studies. Scientists are people, too, with biases and agendas, just like the rest of us. Look behind the headlines. Don’t be a dumbass and swallow the results without determining for yourself whether the conclusions are valid, or whether the studies are rigged to support a pre-conceived conclusion.
* Keep in mind that numerous studies have shown that roughly 200,000 deaths per year occur as a result of their medical treatment from “preventable medical errors” (such as unnecessary surgery, medication errors in the hospital, infections in the hospital, “other errors in hospital”, negative effects of drugs, etc.). See, e.g., here, here and here.