Number of Uninsured Children Drops by a Third

A talking point much cherished by advocates of government-run health care holds that the number of children without health insurance is too high and growing. So, it’s unlikely that they will be touting the new CDC survey that shows a dramatic decrease in the number of uninsured kids:

The percentage of children uninsured during at least part of the year decreased from 18.1% in 1997 to 12.6% in 2005.

If the evangelists of socialized medicine mention this finding at all, they will no doubt claim that SCHIP is responsible for the improvement. In fact, AP has already dug up someone willing to say so:

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program … seems to be the main explanation, said Sherry Glied, a Columbia University professor who studies the uninsured.

Health Affairs is also pitching this canard, but there really isn’t any evidence to support it. Indeed, Professor Glied inadvertently admits as much:

“The kids result was interesting. I haven’t really seen that in other studies,” Glied said.

If she’s hasn’t seen this decrease in other studies, how does she know it was precipitated by SCHIP? The answer is that she doesn’t.

For the advocates of government-run health care, the actual number of uninsured kids is of little importance. What matters is that they have a talking point with which to exploit the emotions of the American public. 

Comments 14

  1. spike wrote:

    So you’re saying it was the market that got all these kids insured? What other mechanism could you possibly posit besides SCHIP that would see a reduction in the number of uninsured kids starting when SCHIP went into effect to today?

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 3:27 pm
  2. Catron wrote:

    It could well have been the market. But my point is that they have no evidence to support their assertions. Their statements (and your question) are classic examples of the post hoc fallacy (the assumption that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event).

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 3:38 pm
  3. Matt wrote:

    Kinda ironic to see you chastising another person for post hoc fallacies.

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 3:42 pm
  4. Catron wrote:

    Matt, you’re gonna have to put a slightly finer edge on that (if you want to be coherent, that is).

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 3:50 pm
  5. Matt wrote:

    It should be quite coherent to you, unless your short term memory is shot. Your whole “tort reform in Texas works” argument is based on post hoc fallacies.

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 4:16 pm
  6. Catron wrote:

    I guess my short-term memory must be shot then, because I sure can’t recall any post hoc fallacies in my argument.

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 4:44 pm
  7. Matt wrote:

    Luckily for you, you can read your own posts!

    “And the results of this legislation?

    Now 30 insurers are doing business in the Lone Star State and others are moving into the market. Rates have fallen on an average of more than 20 percent. Malpractice lawsuits have fallen 50 percent.”

    The above is the very definition of post hoc fallacies.

    The only one of those that is correct is that malpractice lawsuits fell. But of course, they nearly tripled in one county alone the year the law went into effect to avoid the arbitrary caps on the value of cases, so we really don’t know if it will have a long term chilling effect, since so many cases were filed pre-effective date that would likely not have been. Nor does it change the merit of any particular case.

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 6:07 pm
  8. Catron wrote:

    To blame (without documentation) a spike in last minute filings to the tort legislation while dismissing the results I ascribe to the caps as “the very definition of post hoc fallacies” is a textbook case of special pleading.

    But we’re off in the weeds here. This post is about uninsured children.

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 8:28 pm
  9. spike wrote:

    Since the enactment of SCHIP, uninsurance rates have fallen for children, while, in contrast, coverage for adults did not improve.10 Between 1998 and 2003, the uninsurance rate fell from 23 percent to 16 percent among low-income children (with family incomes below 200 percent of poverty), who were the target population for both SCHIP and Medicaid coverage, while it remained around 5 percent among higher-income children and around 38 percent among low-income parents. Declines in uninsurance rates were highest for minority children. Furthermore, coverage improvements occurred for both poor and near-poor children, which suggests that the outreach and enrollment efforts led to more coverage for both Medicaid- and SCHIP-eligible children alike. More recently, from 2000 to 2004, uninsurance rates rose for adults, whereas they declined for children.

    Link is
    and can be accessed by Health Affairs Members.

    OK, that looks like good evidence to me that SCHIP is the source of the reduction. If the only population in which uninsured rates fell was the precise target population of SCHIP, while all other demographic populations either stayed the same or had increasing rates of uninsurance, that’s as close to proof as you can get in the real world.

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 9:51 pm
  10. Catron wrote:

    Neither Health Affairs nor any other source that I know of has shown that these changes are caused by SCHIP. They, like the woman quoted in the AP article, are just making gratuitous assumptions because they fit the party line. It’s the post hoc fallacy again.

    Moreover, the HA article conveniently omits any mention of the fact that a large portion of SCHIP money has been diverted to adults, and therefore could not have affected the numbers for the kids. So, I think we can (in the real world) expect more proof than has thus far been provided.

    Posted 28 Jun 2007 at 6:54 am
  11. spike wrote:

    Because of the nature of the real world and the fact that correlation does not equal causation, it’s virtually impossible to prove that SCHIP “caused” the decline in the uninsured. All you can say is that 10 years ago, there were a ton of kids who were between 100% and 200% of FPL who didn’t have insurnace, and now there are a lot fewer. And lo and behold, SCHIP was designed to target children between 100% and 200% of FPL.

    Also, just because your source was able to dumpster dive enough data to find three states that covered significant numbers of adults with their SCHIP funds doesn’t mean that a “large portion” of SCHIP money has been diverted to adults. It means a large portion of 3 sparsely populated states in one year.

    Posted 28 Jun 2007 at 9:10 am
  12. Catron wrote:

    If it’s “virtually impossible to prove that SCHIP caused the decline in the uninsured,? perhaps you and the others should stop making that claim.

    As to the diversion of SCHIP money to patients for whom it was never meant, it is a nationwide phenomenon. Here is some further reading on the subject.

    Posted 28 Jun 2007 at 2:00 pm
  13. spike wrote:

    Do you have any links from organizations that AREN’T progapanda machines? I guess when you’re running a propaganda blog, it’s difficult, isn’t it?

    Also, nobody is saying SCHIP definitely caused the lowered rates of uninsurance. They’re saying that it seems to be the most likely explanation and that no other explanation makes sense. You haven’t provided a single alternative explanation, just gone into a weird discourse on epistemology that would embarrass a first-year philosophy student.

    Posted 28 Jun 2007 at 5:09 pm
  14. Catron wrote:

    Professor Glied, HA, and you have all asserted that SCHIP is the source of the improvement. So, it’s up to you guys to to provide support for that assertion. It’s not up to me to prove a negative.

    Posted 28 Jun 2007 at 8:52 pm

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