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Do 45,000 Americans Die Each Year from Lack of Health Care?

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A Harvard University study published in the American Journal of Public Health claimed that nearly 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health care coverage. It's an alarming figure, except that this study is seriously flawed, says U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, who represents Florida's 6th Congressional District.

The study reflects the bias of the authors and contains inaccurate characterizations. The authors of the study, Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founded the Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates a single-payer health system, or socialized medicine. According to Stearns, the authors developed their conclusion before conducting the study.

Consider the questionable methodology behind the report. According to an analysis by John C. Goodman, President, CEO and the Kellye Wright Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis:

* The authors of the Harvard study interviewed the uninsured only once -- and never saw them again; this alone undermines the integrity of the findings.

* A decade later, the researchers assumed the participants were still uninsured and, if they died in the interim, lack of insurance was blamed as one of the causes.


* Like unemployment, uninsurance happens to many people for short periods of time.

* Most people who are uninsured regain insurance within one year.

* The authors of the study did not track what happened to the insurance status of the subjects over the decade examined, what medical care they received or even the causes of their deaths.

Source: Cliff Stearns, "Use facts in health care debate," Orlando Sentinel, November 24, 2009.


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