So the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy does a study saying that universal health insurance, i.e., socialized medicine, would save 18,000 lives a year. A former Clinton health care advisor says that it would save at most 9,000 lives a year and probably none. Who’s right and how could we tell?
Well, we can’t. The U.S. total annual death rate is 8.28/1000 which comes to 2,484,000 deaths a year. 18,000 is 0.72% of 2,484,000. That means a change in the death rate from 8.28 to 8.34. That means that both estimates of lives saved are so minor compared to the overall death rate that the differences are completely lost in statistical fuzz. Both parties are wildly irresponsible to even pretend that they can estimate such an impact.
Why we would we even suspect that government paid health care would save lives? There is no evidence that anyone in America is going without necessary health care. Look at the death rates (per 1,000) for countries with socialized medicine: France 8.48, Netherlands 8.71, United Kingdom 10.05, Germany 10.8. These higher rates are largely due to Europe’s aging population, but clearly the gains proposed for the U.S. adoption of politically-managed health care would be swamped by minor changes in population age, birth rates or immigration.
These studies are nothing but a cluster of untestable assumptions. The effects they predict are so trivial that we can never confirm or refute their assertions by subsequent observation. Studies like this are depressingly common. It’s just plain silly that we try to make policy based on purported measurements that no one can actually make. These studies are cargo cult science. They have the seeming of science without the actual experimental rigor that makes science a predictive endeavor.
We’re no better than our pre-scientific ancestors who pored over scripture to justify the secular decisions they’d already made. Instead of scripture we whip out a “scientific” study that might as well be ancient writings.