McArdle pours through the data in the latest Atlantic:

The possibility that no one risks death by going without health insurance may be startling, but some research supports it. Richard Kronick of the University of California at San Diego’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, an adviser to the Clinton administration, recently published the results of what may be the largest and most comprehensive analysis yet done of the effect of insurance on mortality. He used a sample of more than 600,000, and controlled not only for the standard factors, but for how long the subjects went without insurance, whether their disease was particularly amenable to early intervention, and even whether they lived in a mobile home. In test after test, he found no significantly elevated risk of death among the uninsured.

Follow ups at her blog (one, two) and at Tyler Cowen's place. Austin Frakt counters by pointing to literature on the subject:

I assume she (and any reasonable minded individual) would agree that death can be caused by lack of sufficiently good health. It is, therefore, only a trivial bit of logic to conclude that if insurance promotes health it can also be life preserving. Or, turning it around, if uninsurance leads to bad health outcomes it can also increase mortality...The evidence that insurance and the access to care it facilitates improves health, particularly for vulnerable populations (due to age or chronic illness, or both) is as close to an incontrovertible truth as one can find in social science.

Megan replies to Frakt. Yglesias responds to Cowen.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to