McArdle on Whether Health Insurance Affects Health

I’ve blogged previously about the tempest that Ezra Klein stirred up in the teapot of the health care debate when he suggested that Sen. Joe Lieberman “seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people” by holding up ObamaCare.

In the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine, Megan McArdle notes that the economic literature doesn’t quite support Klein’s assumption that covering the uninsured would save lives:

Quite possibly, lack of health insurance has no more impact on your health than lack of flood insurance…

Government insurance should have some effect, but if that effect is not large enough to be unequivocally evident in the data we have, it must be small…

[W]e should have had a better handle on the case for expanded coverage—and, more important, the evidence behind it—before we embarked on a year-long debate that divided our house against itself. Certainly, we should have had it before Congress voted on the largest entitlement expansion in 40 years. Unfortunately, most of us forgot to ask a fundamental question, because we were certain we already knew the answer.

Read the whole thing.