Does Health Insurance Save Lives?

Data from multiple sources all point to one answer.

With multiple bills, strained markets, and CBO scores all competing for the public’s attention in the healthcare debate, some researchers are examining a presumably simple question: Does health insurance save lives? A couple of recent papers, including a review appearing Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, prompted MedPage Today clinical reviewer F. Perry Wilson, MD, to take a look at the available data and the statistical tools used to parse them.

You may have noticed that there’s a bit of a debate going on about health insurance in this country. Reflecting the great diversity of American political life, we have those calling for a universal, single-payer healthcare system:

But in the end, there’s one question that seems to really cut through the political debate: does health insurance save lives? Multiple groups are synthesizing decades worth of data to answer that question. Last week, we saw a report co-authored by Atul Gawande and appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine that concluded:


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