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February 12, 2019

Obamacare Was Supposed to Lower the Death Rate--It Didn't

 

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats and their policy-group echo chamber asserted that tens of thousands of Americans were dying every year because they didn’t have health insurance. Of course, now they’re saying “millions and millions will die” because of climate change.
 
For the uninsured dying, Democrats pointed to an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study in 2002, based on a 1993 study, asserting that some 18,000 people died annually due to a lack of health insurance.
 
Then in September 2009, as the battle over Obamacare legislation was raging, the American Journal of Public Health released a study, conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, that—surprise!—significantly increased the IOM estimate.
 
The Journal claimed that 45,000 Americans died annually due to a lack of health insurance.
 
Of course, the ACA became law, and the Obamacare exchanges became operational in 2014.
 
As a result, the number of uninsured dropped significantly—from 17.8 percent in 2010 to 10 percent in 2016, with a slight uptick to 10.2 percent in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Most of the decline was due to Medicaid expansion.
 
Since the health insurance expansion we have seen the death rate decline every … oh, wait a minute!
 
No, in fact the U.S. death rate has grown since … 2009.
 
As the Trading Economics graph shows, the crude death rate was 7.9 persons per 1,000 people in 2009 and 8.4 per 1,000 in 2016. If having health insurance was such an important factor in preventing deaths, shouldn’t the death rate have declined, or least remained the same?
 


Of course, lots of factors affect the death rate. But the authors of the Journal study thought being uninsured had become a very important one.
 
David Cecere with the Cambridge Health Alliance even said, “Deaths associated with lack of health insurance now exceed those caused by many common killers such as kidney disease.”
 
Obviously, uninsured people die, but do they die because they don’t have health insurance? There was a health care safety net, though it could be patchy and hard to access. And doubtless some people did die because of a lack of insurance.
 
But an argument can be made that the left was grasping for higher “death by uninsured” numbers to create political pressure to pass Obamacare. And it worked, Obamacare passed. Ironically, the death rate went up.


 

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