Estimates are different from Actuals

I currently voluntarily find myself in an “interview” via email correspondence with a fellow blogger.  I use quote marks because the interviewer has quickly gone from interviewer to debater, which doesn’t really bother me, I like debating.  We are at a point now where he has capitalized on my political philosophies to bring the discussion to conservative versus liberal ideologies.

He has, in my opinion, taken many exaggerated leaps based on the fact that I trend toward voting Republican.  For example:

Interviewer: What are you feelings on the 2012 election? Are you unhappy with the selection of Mitt Romney?

JB: I am looking forward to the election. Romney was not my first choice but I will vote for him, I think he will be successful if he wins.

Interviewer: So I can assume you’re voting for him, despite being a Mormon?

JB: I am not fond of Romney being Mormon, but as a generality, Mormons tend to be moral and honest people. I trust that Romney will institute policies which are in the best interest of the country.

Interviewer: Would you ever vote for an atheist who was moral, or is that just going too far?

JB: I would prefer not to, but it would ultimately depend on their platform. For example, I would vote for a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage fiscal conservative atheist before voting for a socially liberal professing Christian.

Interviewer: So turning women into concubines and making sure gay people can’t visit their monogamous life partners when sick in the hospital is more important than making sure poor people have food, shelter, or healthcare?

I was eventually asked: why aren’t you concerned about the tens of thousands who die every year from lack of healthcare in this country? And I was provided a link to a 2009 Harvard Gazette article titled: New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage.  Headlines of this sort make me immediately suspicious.

Let me digress for a moment.  It is not that Conservatives aren’t concerned about those without health insurance.  We believe that if there is to be something done about it, that the policy ought to only affect those uninsured individuals, not the entire country as The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has done.

So after reading the article a few liabilities leapt out at me for someone who wishes to use this or similar studies to make the case that tens of thousands of deaths caused by being uninsured.  Here is the problem:

The researchers analyzed U.S. adults under age 65 who participated in the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) between 1986 and 1994. Respondents first answered detailed questions about their socioeconomic status and health and were then examined by physicians. The CDC tracked study participants to see who died by 2000.

The study found a 40 percent increased risk of death among the uninsured.  As expected, death rates were also higher for males (37 percent increase), current or former smokers (102 percent and 42 percent increases), people who said that their health was fair or poor (126 percent increase), and those who examining physicians said were in fair or poor health (222 percent increase).

If I am reading this correctly, the determination that 45,000 deaths annually are caused by lack of health insurance is based on who was alive in the study in the late 80s – early 90s and died by the year 2000.

What I don’t like about the conclusion is that 45,000 is an estimate based on projections.  What it does is take the people who happened to die during the study period for whatever reason, and multiply them into 45,000 flesh and blood victims.  The number is an extrapolation from estimates, not a count of individuals who actually died from lack of health insurance.  Which leads me to my next complaint.

The conclusion confuses the cause of death with a possible prevention of death.  It’s not that people die from having no health insurance, they die from diseases and injuries.  Though this may seem like a trivial line to draw, the real issue is health care, not health insurance.  Having insurance does not guarantee proper care.  Americans were better cared for even before the ACA than European countries who have implemented universal health care.  For example, Americans have better survival rates than Europeans and Canadians for many cancers.  Easier access to preventive treatments.  Shorter wait times to see specialists and surgeries.  And lower-income Americans (those most likely to lack health insurance) are in better health.  The citizens of European countries and Canada are covered by a government-run health system and are worse off than Americans in the privately run health system.

Aside from confusing causality with correlation, the issue is not about insurance, it is about care.  Under the system prior to the ACA Americans were substantially cared for, even better than our European counterparts who have coverage for every citizen.  Extrapolating from estimates based on speculation is a poor reason to uproot a well established quality institution like the privately run health care system in America.  Policies which would fundamentally change the lives of every man, woman, and child in America should not be done on anecdotal examples for political purposes.


  1. If those moral freaks want to save lives they should start with the 3,000+ killed each DAY in the womb because they are unwanted.

    “So turning women into concubines and making sure gay people can’t visit their monogamous life partners when sick in the hospital is more important than making sure poor people have food, shelter, or healthcare?”

    False premise. False dichotomy. Straw man. When people start throwing out triple fallacies you know you are probably wasting your time! That is almost certain to be the product of a lifetime of government education and mainstream media indoctrination.

  2. So turning women into concubines and making sure gay people can’t visit their monogamous life partners when sick in the hospital is more important than making sure poor people have food, shelter, or healthcare?”

    Taht one made me laugh. At that point, you ought to end the “interview”.

    • Og

      Yeah, I’m close. He has already asked if I was too scared to confront the truth. I didn’t want to engage in silliness but just ending it would have prompted claims that I was running scared and can’t handle tough questions. It is a bit of a waste for time, bit I don’t mind, I like discussion. It also makes for good blog fodder, as you can see.

  3. Marshall Art says:

    Any debate, discussion or interview with a leftist is highly likely to generate feelings of “why did I bother?”. But I think it is important to maintain contact and continue to face their goofy conclusions and accusations, to force THEM to defend their positions according to ACTUAL truth, fact and reality as opposed to their version of them.

    Regarding the health care bit, I agree that those numbers are suspicious. But more importantly deceptive is the weak connection between health insurance and cause of death. As you say, no one dies because of their insurance situation, but due to the ailment that afflicts them. By the same token, no one is healthy because they have insurance, but because they live healthy lifestyles and engage in behavior that results in healthy bodies.

  4. Proverbs 26:4-5
    4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
    5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

    There is a time to answer fools, and there is a time to ignore them. Knowing which time is which is not easy at times.

  5. I will say that editorializing your responses is not really what costitutes an interview. I also really dislike the response of his you highlighted above, though I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that given the fact that this was likely a much longer interview, you have the luxury of pulling out the most eggregious abuses. Maybe not.
    Most liberals, myself included, would see the many things that are wrong with the statement:

    So turning women into concubines and making sure gay people can’t visit their monogamous life partners when sick in the hospital is more important than making sure poor people have food, shelter, or healthcare?

    This person seems either mentally retarded or unbelievably arrogant, quite possibly both. (I await Glenn or DogTags ensuing attempt at humour when they blockquote that last sentence and add “So, liberal then?”) Pro-life is not “turning women into concubines”, and I’m pretty sure that you can visit people in the hospital without being married to them. It doesn’t strike me as an entirely partisan issue that poor people have food and shelter either.
    His comments are just ideological posturing, and entirely unhelpful to either understanding a conservative position or finding common ground.

    John, you could find better liberals- either to interview with or argue with. The chap who interviewed you isn’t named Brett by any chance, is he?

    • George

      Wats funny is there haven’t been many questions. I would even be willing to give you my password so you could be assured that it was actually WORSE than what I plucked. I only happened to want to write about the particular subject, which is why I clipped that portion.

    • Oh yes, George, I could find different liberals for sure, however I didnt know his politics prior, only that he was an atheist and thought it would be interesting. But yes his name is Brett, and judging by that question, it is likely the same one to whom you are referring.

  6. I’d drop the whole thing, then let him claim his “victory”. I wouldn’t even consent to an “interview” that was not publicly visible and capable of being twisted after the fact.

    I’d consent to a Conservative interview, no problem. But we have to agree on the ground rules ahead of time. Did you check out his previous work before agreeing to this?
    I’d let you interview me. I’d let Marshall interview me. I would need an awful lot of rules before agreeing to let DogTags interview me- but I’d be pretty careful to know my interviewer going in.

  7. It is pretty bad when I can tell you who the atheist is before you tell me- just from some douchey pullquotes.
    See? Now I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a class “A” fuckwit. Sorry for the language. He thinks he is witty, and funny- but he’s nothing but a whiney little have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too prick.
    Tell him I told you to GFH…….

  8. To ensure that it doesn’t get editorialized as “Wussy Conservative Can’t Face The HArd Questions”, feel free to call on me to back you up. I’m no friend of the Jinx.

  9. E-mail me. You have my address……

  10. “So turning women into concubines and making sure gay people can’t visit their monogamous life partners when sick in the hospital is more important than making sure poor people have food, shelter, or healthcare?”

    That has to be one of the most illogical and asinine charges I have ever read. Oh, wait a minute, almost all charges from liberals are like that! :oD.

    In our pedestrian mall ministry near the University of Iowa, we run into these sorts of attacks all the time, from so-called intelligent professors and the students who learn from them. Liberal talking points regurgitated as if they come from a textbook on how to debate conservatives. I will deal with this folly for only a short time, forcing them to look at their logic fallacies and to deal with their own failure to consistently practice their belief system, and then tell them “good-day.”

  11. I don’t assume all atheists are liberals, but it’s a good bet that if you’re talking to a liberal, you’re talking to an atheist. I don’t mean that flippantly. I believe Liberalism is born out of outright rejection of God’s sovereignty or mere laziness. I coined this quote: An agnostic is nothing more than a lazy atheist. Most agnostics I come across say things like “We just can’t possibly know the truth about God.” So, they never set out to discover it. “Religious” liberals tend to be those who have no problem talking about God but live their lives as if there is no God and ignore Scripture by making excuses as to its authenticity and reliability. They live by secular humanistic terms.

    But that strawman-type argument of the “interviewer” is something I’ve come across when arguing with liberals more often than from any other group.

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