Bogus Families USA “study”

The liberal advocacy group Families USA has produced a new “study” entitled “Dying for Coverage” which concludes that “Across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010.”

The problem:  It is based upon highly-flawed data from the Institute of Medicine that has been solidly discredited.

Yes, people need health insurance.  And people have options to obtain coverage and care, even when they are sick, through high-risk coverage plans and other means.  But the Families USA study’s conclusions are false.

Clearly, the Families USA message is aimed at the Supreme Court.  Because it is getting some media attention, it’s important to have the facts.

This post from Chris Jacobs, a senior policy analyst with the congressional Joint Economic Committee, explains that the data upon which the Families USA study is based were discredited in an earlier study by Richard Kronick, who currently is a deputy assistant secretary at the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.

A 2009 paper by Richard Kronick – himself a former Clinton Administration official – included the following conclusions:

Adjusted for demographic, health status, and health behavior characteristics, the risk of subsequent mortality is no different for uninsured respondents than for those covered by employer-sponsored group insurance at baseline….The Institute of Medicine’s estimate that lack of insurance leads to 18,000 excess deaths each year is almost certainly incorrect…There is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.

And it’s not just Kronick who agrees with this analysis.  Here’s Brookings Institution scholar, and noted liberal, Henry Aaron, in an interview with Politifact on the links (if any) between the uninsured and death totals:

“I found his reasoning compelling,” said Aaron, himself a member of the Institute of Medicine. “In fact, after listening to his presentation, I had a hard time believing that the IOM had done what they had done.”  In interviews, Aaron and other health care scholars agreed with Kronick that uninsured and insured Americans differ in many ways other than their insurance status.  “To estimate the impact of the lack of insurance on mortality rates, one has to control statistically for all of those differences,” Aaron said.  That, he added, is exactly what Kronick has sought to do so.

So an intellectually rigorous analysis by one Democrat – supported as being compelling and thoughtful by other Democrats – gets ignored by a partisan liberal interest group, because it would take away their likely pre-determined conclusion that Obamacare will reduce death rates.  As The Gipper himself stated, there they go again

Health insurance is important, but the IOM’s claims about its impact, and the Families USA study upon which is based, are not credible.

As the debate moves forward, it will be important to point out that 1) an insurance card does not mean access to care;  2) access to care would be more difficult after ObamaCare takes effect with tens of millions of patients flooding the system and no increase in capacity; 3) hospitals are still required to provide care to any patient who presents needing treatment.