US Health Associated with Income, Not Insurance

By: Guest Contributor - Apr 26, 2016, 8:25 am
The report suggests that Obamacare is the opposite of what the country needs. (flickr)
The report suggests that Obamacare is the opposite of what the country needs. (flickr)

By John R. Graham

An extremely thorough analysis of changes in incomes and mortality in the United States, 2001 through 2014, presents sobering findings for those who think fixing our health system will make us healthier. The study, let by Raj Chetty of Stanford University, ran data on incomes and mortality through a battery of statistical tools.

It is well understood that people in high-income households are healthier than those in low-income households. The latest research demonstrates how important incomes are to health status. Forty-year old men in households in the highest quartile of income (mean = $256,000 annually) had an average life expectancy just under 85 years in 2001. This increased by 0.20 years (a little over ten weeks) by 2014. For those in the lowest quartile ($17,000), life expectancy was about 76 years in 2001, and it increased only 0.08 years (a little over four weeks) by 2014.

Obamacare is likely to accelerate this gap, because it significantly reduces incentives for people in low-income households to increase their incomes.

The research really gets interesting when it explores other factors explaining lifespan. Unsurprisingly, smoking, obesity and exercise were moderately significant factors for people at all income levels. However, other factors had opposite effects at higher incomes than lower incomes.

The researchers looked at lifespans in different areas of the country, by quartile. In the top income quartile, the uninsured rate was moderately associated with shorter lifespans, as was Medicare spending and hospital mortality, whereas access to preventive care and “social capital” were moderately associated with longer lifespans. Income inequality (within the quartile), unemployment and immigrants were moderately associated with shorter lifespans.

However, when it comes to the bottom quintile, neither the proportion of uninsured, nor Medicare spending, nor preventive care had a significant relationship with lifespans. Counter-intuitively: Income inequality and unemployment had a marginally positive relationship with longer lifespans, whereas “social capital” had a marginally negative relationship. The single strongest favorable factor was the proportion of immigrants. It is likely that immigrants to low-income neighborhoods were healthier than the native born.

These findings lead to dramatic policy conclusions: Getting health insurance to people in low-income households is not important for their longevity. More important is allowing them opportunities to increase their incomes. That would be the opposite of Obamacare.

This article was originally published on The Independent Institute‘s Blog The Beacon

Cuban Political Prisoners: at Least 93 People in Jail without Proper Trial

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Apr 26, 2016, 8:22 am

EspañolNinety-three is the number of political prisoners in Cuba, according to a list released this week by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), led by Elizardo Sanchez — though the list is considered "biased" even by the committee itself. The report released by the CCDHRN this Monday, April 26 said that of the 93 political prisoners, 21 had spent between 13 and 24 years in high-security prisons. The list was recently updated with 22 more names. The CCDHRN has four categories for classifying political prisoners: peaceful opponents, those convicted in State Security Court, those convicted of "crimes against the state" and those sentenced with "parole." The names of 51 peaceful dissidents convicted or prosecuted for their rebellious attitude or activities appeared. There were 27 names listed in the State Security Court section for use of a weapon, or some form of force or violence. Also, four citizens of the opposition convicted of "other crimes against the state" appeared on the list, three of them Government Foreign Intelligence Service officials. Among them was Miguel Alvarez, who at the time of his arrest was Chief Adviser to then-President of the National Parliament Ricardo Alarcon. The list disclosed by Elizardo Sanchez also included 11 former prisoners released with a furlough — a legal entity that kept their 25-year sentences imposed during the infamous 2003 "Black Spring."       According to the CCDHRN, at least 26 political prisoners have the right to "probation" in accordance to with criminal code provisions. The report said it is very difficult to make an complete list of political prisoners in Cuba where, according to estimates by the commission, the lack of respect for human rights has resulted in a prison population oscillating between 60,000 and 70,000 inmates. The report also criticizes the Cuban government for rejecting offers for collaboration from the International Red Cross, NGOs and UN experts looking to inspect and improve conditions in prison systems worldwide. Read More: After Obama's Visit, Castro Regime Increases Repression  Read More: Cuba Post-Communism Will Not Be Democratic  The Cuban prison system is composed of around 200 prisons, including about 60 high-security prisons, labor camps and detention centers. "The government insists that in Cuba there have not been, nor are prisoners for political reasons," said the CCDHRN, "but only counterrevolutionary prisoners and ordinary criminal offenses: but before and now such a statement is simply uncertain." A Commission spokesman said the existence of political prisoners in Cuba came to light last March during Obama's visit, when a foreign journalist inquired about the subject during a press conference with Raul Castro. Castro challenged the journalist to present a list of political prisoners as a way to deny that there are such prisoners in the country. The report concluded by referencing former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize-recipient Oscar Arias, who said "any government that considers itself democratic, can't have a single political prisoner." Source: 14ymedio.

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