Policy arguments tend to revolve around numbers, not people, and there is a good reason for that. Individual cases mean little in that they have little to no statistical power. They don’t, at least by themselves, guide policy discussions. Politicians use individual cases recklessly to make their points regardless of the bigger reality surrounding them. These stories are told during stump speeches and at State of the Union Addresses, and for this reason, policy experts tend to give these cases little credit. The blatant and transparent politicking leaves a bad taste in the mouth. At the same time it is the individual cases, the stories, that stir the hearts and move the masses. These stories, whether they are health care related, Iraq related, poverty related, or anything else need to be set-up within the bigger picture.
Here’s the bigger picture:
46-47 million people in the U.S. do not have insurance.
Another 16-17 million people do not have adequate insurance.
The Institutes of Medicine estimate that 18,000 Americans die every year because they do not have insurance.
Now the individual case. It’s another story told by Bob Herbert in the Op-ed pages of the New York Times, entitled “Worsening the Odds.”