Friday :: Sep 18, 2009

45,000 Annual Deaths Linked To Lack Of Health Insurance


by Turkana

Let's talk numbers. Even the most policy-averse can understand basic numbers.

From Reuters:

Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.

"We're losing more Americans every day because of inaction ... than drunk driving and homicide combined," Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters.

Overall, researchers said American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage.

A 1993 study found that those without health insurance are 25% more likely to die. That study put the number of annual deaths at 18,00 a year. The new study used the same methodology. It excludes people over the age of 65, because they have health insurance. It's called Medicare. A government run health plan. The increased number of deaths is due largely to the increased number of uninsured. 27,000 more deaths, each year. Since 1993. Since the Clinton Administration's attempt to reform health care was destroyed, largely by the insurance industry.

Another factor is that there are fewer places for the uninsured to get good care. Public hospitals and clinics are shuttering or scaling back across the country in cities like New Orleans, Detroit and others, he said.

Public hospitals save lives. But the privatization obsession of the cold, cruel, greedy is killing off public hospitals. Which is killing off people. And the health insurance industry is killing people.

The study's lead author, Dr. Andrew Wilper, who was at Harvard Medical School when the study was done and who now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School, was quoted on the Physicians for a National Health Plan website:

“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health. We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease — but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”

The health insurance industry is the ultimate death panel. It excludes people who cannot afford health insurance. It excludes people who can afford health insurance but who have pre-existing conditions. Those who have no health insurance are more likely to die unnecessarily. Some 45,000 each year.

What would this nation do if some foreign power killed 45,000 people in this country in a single year? What should we do to the insurance industry?

Turkana :: 11:27 AM :: Comments (9) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!