• Clean Up

    Apparently there were some technical difficulties with Michael McWilliams’ post that reviews the literature on the health consequences of lack of insurance. They may have only been experienced by Internet Explorer users (seriously, give Firefox a try; it really is better). In any case, the problems should be fixed now. So try again if you couldn’t read the full post earlier.

    See also Ezra Klein’s latest on the topic. He’s providing a level of synthesis you won’t find here because it’s not my thing.

    I don’t want to be too harsh, and I don’t want to imply that anyone is sitting around twirling their mustache thinking up ways to hurt poor people. But opposition to health-care reform (which is different than opposition to the people who would be helped by health-care reform) is leading to some very strange arguments about the worth of health-care insurance — arguments that don’t fit with previous opinions, revealed preferences, or even the evidence the skeptics are citing.

    … Saying that the protective effect of health-care insurance is hard to measure is very different than saying it is “too small to measure,” particularly when the comment is coming from someone who pays for health-care insurance, and is being made in context of whether the uninsured should get insurance rather than whether the insured should let go of theirs. There’s a methodological question here, and then there are political agendas here, and the two are getting mixed up

    The hypothesis that some individuals in this debate are motivated by political agendas strikes me as far more plausible than the hypothesis that there is little proven connection between insurance and health and mortality. Though, that bar is pretty low.

    Later: See also Kevin Drum who puts up a nice chart from McWilliams’ 2009 Milbank Quarterly paper that summarizes the research. Worth a look.

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    • The hypothesis that some individuals in this debate are motivated by political agendas strikes me as no less plausible than the hypothesis that there is little proven connection between insurance and health and mortality.

      I may be a mental midget, but this sentence reads to me as follows: my gut instinct says it is more plausible that some research is tainted by ideologues than that there is no connection between insurance/health/mortality.

      Do I read this correct, or did I get lost parsing all the negative words? Judging by your other writing, I do not think this is what you meant to say.

      Should I have read this correct, I reply: absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that some (or most) research is ideologically tainted. I do have doubts about the empirical connection between insurance/health/mortality.

    • The hypothesis that some individuals in this debate are motivated by political agendas
      I’d be surprised to find anyone who DOESN’T believe that.

      the hypothesis that there is little proven connection between insurance and health and mortality
      The “proven” bit there makes it not much of a hypothesis.

      Also, would you sign onto Robin Hanson’s petition, mentioned in the previous thread?

      • @TGGP – I’m in favor of research. Something akin to another RAND HIE study would be fine with me. I wonder if there would be IRB approval issues given the literature on the insurance-health relationship. I’m not going to commit to signing anything until I’ve read it, which I haven’t yet. But I will look at it and then make a decision.