Government Health Insurance Kills

Somebody needs to fact check FactCheck, like me. The group issued a “fact check” on an ad by Rudy Giuliani comparing health care in the UK and the US. The ad claims that the survival rate for prostate cancer sufferers is 82% in the US and only 44% in the UK (under socialized medicine). The statistic really comes from an article by David Gratzer on Canadian Health Care.

Gratzer calculated the number of deaths divided by the number of diagnoses each year. FactCheck calls this statistic “bogus” because the way to calculate survival rates is to find the percentage diagnosed still living after five years. By this measure 74.4% of UK cancer victims live five years – but in the US 98% do.

It seems even with the new math, the Gratzer/Giuliani argument holds up. But FactCheck doesn’t think this means US health care is better, just that US men get screened earlier and more often(though they don’t attribute this to long lines in socialized medicine).

But FactCheck goes further than to question the data, and tries to impugn Rudy/Gratzer’s entire argument that free market health care is better than socialized medicine:

Giuliani’s central argument is that if the Democrats have their way, the public’s health is in danger. As we’ve noted, that’s simply not supported by the bogus statistic he gives as evidence. There is, however, ample evidence that lack of health insurance is hazardous to an individual’s health, and that those who do have coverage (as Giuliani did as mayor) live longer.

They then cite a study showing longer survival rates among those diagnosed with cancer under private insurance than those uninsured (apparently survival rates can be compared by type of insurance, but not across countries). This shouldn’t be surprising, nor would I argue that it is better to be uninsured than have private insurance. But that same study finds that the uninsured live longer than those under government insurance:

“Giuliani’s central argument” that FactCheck derides seems to be right on – plans to put more people into government insurance programs puts the public’s health in danger. Not only are they better off under private insurance, but they are better off being uninsured.

Or to paraphrase FactCheck: There is ample evidence that Medicaid is hazardous to an individual’s health, and that those have coverage (as Giuliani did as mayor) or have no insurance live longer.