The Real Death Panels and Their Toll

Recently, Robert Reich noted, “the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concludes that Republican plans to partially repeal the Affordable Care Act will immediately cause 18 million Americans to lose their health insurance. A decade from now, 32 million fewer Americans will be insured.“ Reich went on to say that the report does not provide any specific numbers on the actual death toll created by that loss of coverage.But, there has been research over the past few decades on just that. Wilper et al. revisited research from 1993 and found that

Among all participants, 3.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]=2.5%, 3.7%) died. The hazard ratio for mortality among the uninsured compared with the insured, with adjustment for age and gender only, was 1.80 (95% CI=1.44, 2.26). After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die (hazard ratio=1.40; 95% CI=1.06, 1.84) than those with insurance.

That means that between the CBO conclusions and research conducted on the impact of being uninsured on mortality (which indicates that 1.4 times more people will die than the typical 3% in a population controlled for other matters), killing the Affordable Care Act is also going to kill at least 300,000 people, and that toll will likely rise to 600,000.

Where are those deaths going to fall? I am guessing they will fall most heavily on the poor, uneducated, and ill-prepared supporters of the GOP and Trump.

Want to talk about death panels? It is now very clear that the only death panels we have in the United States is the GOP majority in the US House of Representatives and US Senate. Fasten your seat belts; we are in for a very bumpy ride…


Notes

United States Congressional Budget Office. “How Repealing Portions of the Affordable Care Act Would Affect Health Insurance Coverage and Premiums.” Congressional Budget Office. Last modified January 17, 2017. Accessed January 19, 2017. https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52371.

Wilper, Andrew P., Steffie Woolhandler, Karen E. Lasser, Danny McCormick, David H. Bor, and David U. Himmelstein. “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults.” American Journal of Public Health 99, no. 12 (December 2009): 2289–2295. Accessed January 18, 2017. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775760/.

One comment on “The Real Death Panels and Their Toll

  1. Allen D. Blume says:

    Notwithstanding the historical correlations, I suspect that the mortality rate will be significantly higher given other restrictions such as further curtailment of Medicaid and Medicare funding, a free floating increase in the overall costs of medical care, prescriptions, and further restrictions on medical malpractice litigation. Add back the uninsurability/pre-existing condition tripwires, and you’ve got a “perfect storm” for higher death rates. Further rollbacks in public health and safety regulations, elimination of OSHA-type safeguards, and a likely cap on workers’ compensation death and injury payouts will further exacerbate the problem. Oh, and I won’t be in the least surprised at a spike in suicides, too…

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