We had the debate over the efficacy of health insurance in light of the poor efficacy of modern medicine. The common reconciliation is that uninsured get such bad treatment they end up worse off. In many cases worse of than Christian Scientists, who receive no treatment at all.

Another hypothesis I was kicking around was this: perhaps its not the medicine at all. Perhaps it’s the insurance. We know that stress is harmful and dealing with health care bills can be among the worst stressors at the worst time.

Could the effect be that large?

Well according Via Robin Hason, the Post reports that the direct effects of a nuclear meltdown are swamped by the effects from people being stressed about have experienced a nuclear meltdown.

The psychological effects were the biggest health effects of all — by far,” said Fred Mettler, a University of New Mexico professor emeritus and one of the world’s leading authorities on radiation, who studied Chernobyl for the World Health Organization. “In the end, that’s really what affected the most people.”

Fears of contamination and anxiety about the health of those exposed and their children led to significantly elevated rates of suicidal thinking and anxiety disorders, and rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression about doubled, Mettler and others said.

“The effect on mental health was hugely important,” said Evelyn Bromet, a professor of psychiatry at Stony Brook University who studied the aftermath of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. “People’s fears about getting cancer, or their children getting cancer, and family and friends dying from radiation exposure were very intense.”

Now granted this is because people are overaffraid of nuclear radiation and that affects both ends. The direct danger is usually pretty low and the stress is extremely high.

Still it notches up the insurance alone does a body good, hypothesis.

Onen thing that seems to pop up over and over is that chronic extreme stress is really not good for you. Not, in a you should eat more leafy greens kind of way. But, in a you shouldn’t smoke three packs a day or have more than 5 alcoholic drinks a day, everyday kind of way.

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