Among the many lies used to sell Obamacare to the American public? That it would save lives, of course.
In fact, Obamacare has been so helpful in saving American lives that, according to Bernie Sanders, 36,000 people would die each year if Obama’s signature health law were to be repealed. The Washington Post argued that the number is actually closer to 43,000. They’re interesting claims to make, given that mortality rates have increased since Obamacare went into effect.
Thanks to some careful research from The Federalist’s Brian Frankie, both estimates look implausible in light of the fact that mortality rates have actually increased since Obamacare took effect:
Examining U.S. adult mortality in the decade prior to Obamacare’s insurance expansion (2004-2013), the all-cause mean death rate for ages 15 to 64 is 310.4 people per 100,000. The rate is fairly steady over the decade, with a low of 306.8, a high of 313.5, and a standard deviation of 2.2. If extending taxpayer-sponsored insurance to 15 million people since 2013 has resulted in 21,000 fewer annual deaths, then the mean death rate should decrease from 310.4 to approximately 300.
Returning to the Center for Disease Control’s WONDER database for 2014-15 numbers, one finds the mean death rate is…320.4. Well, that is unexpected. Since Obamacare provisions extended insurance coverage, the death rate has substantially increased, by more than 20,000 deaths per year.
There’s been a spike in opioid related deaths in recent years, which must be accounted for in the numbers. Luckily, the CDC also keeps numbers that exclude external causes of death.
What happens when we calculate the death rate after excluding all external causes of morbidity (ICD-10 codes for deaths caused by drugs, alcohol, assault, suicide, and accidents—in short, anything that is not due to an internal illness)? For the decade 2004-2013, the death rate is 247.4 people per 100,000 population. It is more stable than the all-cause death rate, with a low of 244.7, a high of 249.9, and a standard deviation of 1.7.
With Obamacare extending insurance to 15 million more people, this death rate should fall to 238 per 100,000. The 2014-15 data show the actual reported death rate among U.S. adults, excluding external causes, is…252.9.
This is equivalent to an excess 11,000 annual U.S. adult deaths relative to the pre-Obamacare steady state trends, and more than 32,000 annual deaths greater than predicted by academic studies quantifying health benefits from improved insurance coverage.
See for yourselves:
So what explains the increase? A few ideas…
> Millions of people lost their doctors.
> Deductibles skyrocketed under Obamacare, making people less likely to get the preventative care we were told the law would make them more likely to receive.
> Most of those who got insured through Obamacare were insured through Medicaid expansion, not by purchasing private health insurance, and Medicaid produces poor health outcomes.
[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]