The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You gotta love Al Franken...

1 comment:

Steve Sibson said...

After doing a little research I found this:

The authors of these studies, David Himmelstein, Deborah Thorne, Elizabeth Warren, and Steffie Woolhandler, argue that the problem of “medical bankruptcies” would be solved by the adoption of a government-run health insurance system like Canada’s.

The research has been politically persuasive. President Obama himself cited the dubious link between medical expenses and personal bankruptcy as part of his rationale for a massive increase of government involvement in healthcare. “The cost of healthcare now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds,” he declared in March. “By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes.”

A July 28 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee titled, “Is Our Healthcare System Bankrupting Americans?” prominently featured the medical bankruptcy study. More recently, in a USA Today column, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer cited medical bankruptcy to justify their healthcare overhaul efforts.

Yet the medical bankruptcy study has been soundly refuted by several researchers. This includes critiques published by David Dranove and Michael Millenson in Health Affairs and a working paper by the American Enterprise Institute’s Aparna Mathur. The idea that large numbers of Americans are declaring bankruptcy due to medical expenses is a myth.

Dranove and Millenson critically analyzed the data from the 2005 edition of the medical bankruptcy study. They found that medical spending was a contributing factor in only 17 percent of U.S. bankruptcies. They also reviewed other research, including studies by the Department of Justice, finding that medical debts accounted for only 12 percent to 13 percent of the total debts among American bankruptcy filers who cited medical debt as one of their reasons for bankruptcy.

As for the notion that greater government involvement in health insurance will reduce bankruptcy, it is helpful to compare personal bankruptcy rates in the United States and Canada. Unlike the United States, Canada has a universal, government-run health insurance system. Following the logic of Himmelstein and colleagues, we should therefore expect to observe a lower rate of personal bankruptcy in Canada compared to the United States.

Yet the evidence shows that in the only comparable years, personal bankruptcy rates were actually higher in Canada. Personal bankruptcy filings as a percentage of the population were 0.20 percent in the United States during 2006 and 0.27 percent in 2007. In Canada, the numbers are 0.30 percent in both 2006 and 2007. The data are from government sources and defined in similar ways for both countries and cover the time period after the legal reforms to U.S. bankruptcy laws in 2005 and before the onset of the 2008 economic recession.