The only thing that came out of the Obamacare debacle that we can say for certain is that more people have health insurance. It follows on, then, that we could assume that since more people have insurance, more people are actually using it, and their health could improve.
Except that's not happening.
Why are Americans dying faster than we did before Obamacare?
Public health gurus have long believed that the higher the health coverage rate, the lower the death rate.
In December 2009, the American Journal of Public Health published an important study. Dr. Andrew Wilper and five colleagues from the Cambridge Health Alliance updated a 1993 study using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It found that private health care insurance was associated in 2005 with a 40 percent mortality risk reduction among the pre-Medicare U.S. adult population (age 18 to 64).
Wow! A 40% reduction in mortality just because you had health insurance. What a great argument for compulsory insurance. Everybody will be healthy. Tens of thousands of people will not die every year.
By 2014 between the expansion of Medicaid and the Obamacare exchanges, over 15 million people were insured. This should have lead to 21,000 fewer in 2015 that we had before the Obamacare status quo.
And how did we do in 2015? Using the CDC's own database called WONDER, we find that 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.
Except, in 2015, the mean death rate rose to 320.4. In fact, it seems that even with the expansion of insurance, over 20,000 more people died than the pre-mandatory insurance periods.
Remember, correlation is not causation, so what are we scapegoating for the fact that American deaths have risen "unexpectedly" since Obamacare?
Opioids. Opioid addiction. Now, let's go on to prove this, assuming that opioid addiction is independent of insurance coverage. What would the death rate be if we excluded all sources of morbidity (deaths caused by drugs including the new bogey man, opioids, alcohol, assault, suicide, and accidents)?
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.
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. It is more than three standard deviations higher than the pre-Obamacare mean mortality, and it has persisted for the two full years, 2014—15, for which mortality data have been compiled. It is not a statistical aberration.
Obamacare, not opioids, is killing us.
How is this happening?
An engineer and statistics geek, Brian Frankie, crunched the numbers for The Federalist, and has come to the following conclusions:
We know less than we think. We know Obamacare became law, and millions of individuals gained new insurance policies, either through subsidized private insurance or through Medicaid. We also know that academic studies, relying on the 1993 study predicted that the US would have large reductions in US adult mortality following said insurance expansion. So, that’s what was predicted.
However, we now know that the same year Obamacare’s insurance expansion provisions took effect, there was a pronounced, and statistically significant, surge in US adult mortality. Looking at the statistics, it appears that the surge remains after removing all drug-related deaths, and other external causes.
This is all we know. The rest is speculation.
So, has Obamacare, or some of the secondary effects of Obamacare (increased costs for premiums and deductibles, longer wait times, etc), actually caused the negative impact on the adult mortality rate? Is the improvement in public health that was promised actually another Obamacare lie, like you can keep your doctor and your plan?
Assuming for the sake of argument that the Obamacare has increased adult mortality, meeting the goal of not harming anyone who was actually helped by Obamacare probably won't be as simple as repealing it. Most of the changes wrought by this law in the insurance and medical markets are irreversible; a hospital is not going to de-merge if Obamacare is repealed.
It’s likely that, despite evidence, the Party of Science, aka the Democrats, won’t examine any of the actual outcomes of Obamacare (higher prices, lower service rates, increased mortality). Instead, there will be bleating about loss of pre-existing condition coverage, people being “forced” off insurance, and increase death rates. Except, the increase in death rate is happening now. And it’s not the fault of opioids. But it sure looks like there's a strong correlation between government mandating insurance and Americans dying.
Maybe that's what is actually meant by a death tax.