President Obama’s kicking off his health care reform today in the worst possible way: with a mischaracterization of data.Make sure you click on the above link for further statistical buttwhooping.
“The cost of health care now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds," according to remarks prepared for the president to open his White House forum on health care reform. The problem: That claim, based on a 2001 survey, is simply unsupportable.
The figure comes from a 2005 Harvard University study saying that 54 percent of bankruptcies in 2001 were caused by health expenses. We reviewed it internally and knocked it down at the time; an academic reviewer did the same in 2006. Recalculating Harvard’s own data, he came up with a far lower figure – 17 percent.
Fact-check.org has noted that even using Harvard’s numbers, it’s more like a bankruptcy every minute; indeed if you add up all bankrputcies in a year you barely get one every 30 seconds. [...] But more to the point is that the Harvard data are clearly inflated, or at best, mischaracterized.
“It stinks to be uninsured. I don’t want to be quoted saying anything else,” Dranove says. “But there are correct studies, and incorrect studies. For academics, the validity of the research methods matters.”
It should for the rest of us, too.
In response, the White House has released this picture:
UPDATE: My bad. The analysis comes from Gary Langer at ABC News. Tapper tweeted it.