Brian Frankie explains in a Federalist column why Obamacare‘s one major accomplishment does not necessarily mean good news for American health care.

… Obamacare has fallen short of nearly every conceivable goal of health-care reform.

There’s one single exception: Obamacare has dramatically expanded health insurance coverage. This single remaining reason explains why it retains the support of progressives and a significant chunk of the electorate. All other considerations are secondary, if not irrelevant. More people have health insurance, so more people are benefitting from improved health outcomes and access to care.

There is only one simple flaw in this reasoning. It does not appear to be true. …

… Examining U.S. adult mortality in the decade prior to Obamacare’s insurance expansion (2004-2013), the all-cause mean death rate for ages 15 to 64 is 310.4 people per 100,000. The rate is fairly steady over the decade, with a low of 306.8, a high of 313.5, and a standard deviation of 2.2. If extending taxpayer-sponsored insurance to 15 million people since 2013 has resulted in 21,000 fewer annual deaths, then the mean death rate should decrease from 310.4 to approximately 300.

Returning to the WONDER database for 2014-15 numbers, one finds the mean death rate is … 320.4. Well, that is unexpected. Since Obamacare provisions extended insurance coverage, the death rate has substantially increased, by more than 20,000 deaths per year. …

… What happens when we calculate the death rate after excluding all external causes of morbidity (ICD-10 codes for deaths caused by drugs, alcohol, assault, suicide, and accidents—in short, anything that is not due to an internal illness)? For the decade 2004-2013, the death rate is 247.4 people per 100,000 population. It is more stable than the all-cause death rate, with a low of 244.7, a high of 249.9, and a standard deviation of 1.7.

With Obamacare extending insurance to 15 million more people, this death rate should fall to 238 per 100,000. The 2014-15 data show the actual reported death rate among U.S. adults, excluding external causes, is … 252.9.