Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fact or Agenda-Driven Fiction?

There has been no shortage of coverage over the past few months about the study that purports the over half of the bankruptcies in the US are due to medical bills. The Harvard report unfortunately does not take into account the actual facts that the study actually revealed. Indeed, there are many people who are forced to go through banckruptcy due to medical bills, but the numbers that the study itself produced have to be significantly massaged in order to meet the greater than 50% claim. A dispassionate, well-informed National Review Online article briefly sums up the information and delineates how its flawed conclusions were reached. In particular, there is an imaginative use of the term "medical cause" of bankruptcy, which is taken to include such diverse medical issues as compulsive gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, or the birth or adoption of a child.

Why would such a flawed study be published, much less be lauded in the press as such an important milestone? The rather simple, and regrettable, answer, is because it is inherently biased towards the establishment of a universal (i.e., taxpayer funded, cradle-to-the-grave) health care system. This inherent bias is not revealed by the main author of the article, but her views on the subject have been made quite clear elswhere. Whether or not one believes in a universal health care system is moot; it is important to get factual, unbiased evaluation of the data before making major changes in health care policy.