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Health Care Numbers That NPR Won't Touch

Mytwords's picture

[cross-posted at NPR Check]

If you watch or listen to Democracy Now! you know about the latest study on insurance and mortality in US adults. It's no big deal, just some wacky research indicating that tens of thousands of people (45,000 actually) in the US die every year because they don't have health insurance.

NPR is definitely challenged when it comes to counting, math and timekeeping - though they are the gold standard for tallies that comfort the powerful and celebrate death from the skies. But some numbers are just so confusing and troublesome, why deal with them at all - especially if it might ruffle the death health insurance industry? Consider the old, way-back-then study of 2002 from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which determined that, in the US, 18,000 people a year die from lack of health insurance, or the Urban Institute 2008 update that raised the mortality estimate to 22,000. And now in the thick of the health insurance reform debates and policy maneuvers, there is a new study doubling the mortality estimate to 45,000.

So how has NPR done on covering these deadly numbers? Lets consult the NPR death panel search engine:

On the 18,000 fatalities:

On the 22,000 figure:

On the 45,000 figure:

To be fair to NPR - 45,000 is a pretty puny number compared to that big, scary TRILLION number which does get lots of attention from the journalists at NPR when it comes to health care.

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