I was perusing “The Health Care Blog” and just read this entry from John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. Now, it’s no secret that he’s conservative, but that doesn’t excuse the way he tries to argue that lacking insurance doesn’t make people any worse off.
“As I wrote at my blog the other day, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) discovery that Hispanics (one-third of whom are uninsured) have a life expectancy that is 2 1/2 years longer than whites (90% of whom have health insurance) makes mincemeat out of the oft-repeated idea that the uninsured get less health care and die earlier than everyone else.”
Of course, later he says:
“Now if we did research at the NCPA the way Families USA does research, we would be claiming that lack of insurance actually makes people live longer!”
Yes, let’s not go too far in our interpretation of his misinterpretation. He is not saying that lacking insurance makes you live longer, he’s just saying that lacking insurance doesn’t shorten your life. And how does he reach this conclusion? Because Hispanics live longer, on average, than non-Hispanic whites, despite Hispanics being more than 3 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be uninsured. Really?! It couldn’t possibly be that the difference in life expectancy is due to other factors like diet, lifestyle, genetics, could it? It couldn’t possibly be the case that if more Hispanics were insured, the gap in life expectancy between them and non-Hispanic whites would grow even wider, could it? In both cases, the answer is a resounding “OF COURSE IT COULD!”
The statistics from the CDC that Goodman sites are not flawed. His interpretation of them is, however. The only way to state, with certainty, that being uninsured doesn’t matter, is to identify two groups who are identical in every respect except for their insurance status, and follow them over the course of their life time. That is not what these data do. Goodman has simply overstepped, misinterpreted data to push a policy agenda, and hoped that everyone who read his post would be too slow to see his slight of hand. Sorry, Mr. Goodman. You didn’t fool me.