An Experiment In Scotch

I write to discover what I believe

The State Of Health Care Reporting Is Sad

The front page article on CNN right now, if read uncritically, would have the dear reader to believe that if you are uninsured in America, you are “at mortal risk” of dying prematurely and that 45,000 people die every year for the sole reason that they don’t have health insurance. Read more closely and you realize that all of the above is based on a study written by physicians who founded a program that supports government-backed “single-payer” health coverage and that is based on such hard data as “What all three of these people have in common is that they experienced symptoms, but didn’t seek care because they were uninsured and they worried about the hospital expense, according to their families.”.

Look, maybe we need single payer health care in this country. Maybe we don’t. But how in the holy hell will any of us be able to decide if we are to base our decisions on craptastic reporting like that linked above? Let us assume for a minute that it really is true that not having health insurance increases your risk of dying by 40%. According to the CDC, the age group measured in the study has a 1 in 305, or .32% of dying from cause whether you have health insurance or not. Acknowledging that the data is a little messy, if you say the uninsured have a 40% greater chance of dying, they are up to a whopping .46% chance of dying. For this, we’re going to completely rewrite how we handle health care in this country and hand it all to the government, keeper of things like Social Security and the regulation of Bernie Madoff?

This is the way reporting is going on CNN and other major media outlets. It’s all screaming and histrionics. This article is riddled with the three terrible sounding anecdotes, blaming their deaths on not having health insurance and being afraid to go to the hospital ignoring any other possible explanation like a freelance cameraman who by his wife’s own admission never complained about anything. Yet his death must have happened because he didn’t have health insurance. Color me unconvinced which is the color black like my sad, cynical heart.

Here’s another good one: one of the authors of the study, again who created a foundation to support single payer government sponsored healthcare, says that not having health insurance has become lethal. Guess what? Having health insurance is lethal too! Everyone dies. Having health insurance does not guarantee that everyone will suddenly start taking care of themselves and going to the doctor on a regular basis any more than having auto insurance ensures that everyone will suddenly start driving the damn speed limit.

Seriously, health care is not a fundamental human right. It just isn’t. In the long run, maybe it’s cheaper and better to have a single payer system and maybe it isn’t. But reporting like this CNN hit piece isn’t furthering the debate. It’s the sad state of big media today that we have to believe stuff like this is front page news.


  1. Wait!? People with health insurance are dying!@?!?!? Those evil corporate health insurance swine, enslaving the people to feed their profit greed.

  2. yep, people who have health insurance are dying. and going slowly broke while doing it. whether we need a single payer system or not, whether health insurance is a right or not, the system is jacked up, and shockingly, the evil corporate health insurance swine, enslaving the people to feed their profit greed, have plenty to do with that. that’s far from the only contributor to the problem, but attitudes like that one aren’t going to fix things any faster than reporting like CNN’s.

  3. to be clear, my comment isn’t pointed at the original post. i couldn’t agree more. maybe i should start using those stupid twitter-style ‘@’ tags…or just keep my trap shut.

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