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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Dying from Lack of Insurance

A new study from researchers with the Harvard Medical School found that 45,000 deaths a year can be attributed to the lack of health insurance. Our readers ask: Really? And, they want to know, isn’t this finding actually from the single-payer advocacy group Physicians for a National Health Program?
We’ll answer the latter first: The study was conducted by six researchers who were all with the Department of Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

Denial of Claims

Insurance companies aren’t very popular these days, and it’s certainly not too difficult to dig up a horror story or two of how a patient’s medical claim was denied unfairly. But do companies really "deny payment for 1 out of every 5 treatments doctors prescribe," as a new ad says?
Health Care for America NOW, a liberal group supporting health care overhaul efforts in Congress, makes the claim in a new ad campaign:

The ad, airing for two weeks on national cable,

A False Appeal to Women’s Fears

A conservative group with Republican ties called the Independent Women’s Forum is airing an ad that says “300,000 American women with breast cancer might have died” if our health care were “government run” like England’s, citing the American Cancer Society as a source …

‘SpotCheck.org’? We Disagree.

In an Aug. 20 appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” former New York Lt. Gov. (and health care legislation critic) Betsy McCaughey referred to our organization as “spot-check dot org,” claiming we failed to adequately read the House health care bill. McCaughey is the source of the false claim that the bill calls for mandatory counseling for seniors “to do what’s in society’s best interest … and cut your life short.”
As we said in our article “False Euthanasia Claims,”

Keep Your Insurance? Not Everyone.

President Obama has repeatedly said that under the health care overhaul efforts in Congress, “if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan.” But he can’t make that promise to everyone. In fact, under the House bill, some employers might have to modify plans after a five-year grace period if they don’t meet …

Obama Wrong on AARP Endorsement

At his town hall event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, President Obama went too far in claiming the support of AARP:

Obama: We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors. …
[A]nother myth that we’ve been hearing about is this notion that somehow we’re going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?

But AARP,

How to Not Prove a Point

The United Kingdom’s Department of Health may not have expected to face such harsh criticism during debate of overhauling the health care system here in the United States. As we’ve repeatedly said, neither President Obama nor the major health care bills in Congress call for replicating the U.K.’s government-run and government-provided system. But our neighbors across the pond would have to smile – or perhaps laugh out loud – at this claim, courtesy of the conservative Investor’s Business Daily:

IBD editorial,

August 10, 2009

In 2008, U.S. health care spending is estimated to have been $2.4 trillion. It is projected to nearly double to $4.4 trillion in 2018.
Source: Health Affairs/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Dying on a Wait List?

Perhaps the most emotional of the health care ads we’ve seen in recent months is the one featuring Canadian Shona Holmes, who warns of the dangers of a government-run health care system. Holmes tells viewers: "I survived a brain tumor. But if I’d relied on my government, I’d be dead. … As my brain tumor got worse, my government health care system told me I had to wait six months to see a specialist. In six months,

White House Fact-Checking

We welcome competition – or rather, colleagues – in the fact-checking business. But the latest entrant to our line of work is an entity we’ve actually fact-checked, and will continue to fact-check. Regularly. 
The White House, according to its official blog, is encouraging people to send along any health care rumors or claims, mainly of the "scary" chain e-mail variety, that seem "fishy." In its first installment of these debunking efforts, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the Health Reform Office,