Insurance and Mortality

For those of you closely following the KleinMcArdle kerfuffle over the relationship between insurance and mortality, Klein has just volleyed back. His post includes quotes from well-established and respected health care researchers, Michael McWilliams (assistant professor of health care policy and of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate physician in the Division of General Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital) and Katherine Baicker (Harvard health economist and a former member of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers).

McWilliams speaks knowledgeably about the research on this topic, having written a substantial recent literature review. Klein’s conclusion based on his interview of McWilliams and Baicker is that,

we’re left with is three classes of evidence. The first are the major observational studies attempting to model something difficult to model, which is the causal effect of insurance on mortality. They do their best to control for the confounding factors and find an effect anywhere from 18,000 and 45,000 unnecessary deaths a year. The second are the natural experiment studies. The only one that measures people who are actually facing death in the near-term — and these studies are only really useful in the near-term — finds a 20 percent reduction in death rates. Then there are the many, many studies assessing the effect of insurance on conditions that kill you, like high blood pressure and cancer. And they show a large protective effect from insurance.

I recommend reading the whole post.

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