- Our children are dying for health care (FCN, 04-12-2007)
- Universal health care–a right or privilege? (FCN, 10-12-2006)
- The connection between wealth and health (FCN, 06-06-2006)
WASHINGTON D.C. (FinalCall.com) – Whether or not a person has health insurance can mean life or death, according to “Dying for Coverage” a recent Families USA report for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report revealed the number of Americans expected to die in each state, each week because they don’t have health coverage.
Families USA is a national non-profit that advocates for affordable, high quality health care.
Using data from a 2002 groundbreaking national federal study, Dying for Coverage demonstrated direct links between a lack of health coverage and deaths from health-related causes. It found more than 7 working-age Texans die each day due to a lack of health insurance. “Our report highlights how our inadequate system of health coverage condemns a great number of people to an early death, simply because they don’t have the same access to health care as their insured neighbors,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.
“Health insurance really matters in how people make their health care decisions,” he continued “We know that people without insurance often forgo checkups, screenings and other preventive care.” The study was released April 8.
For Khalilah Ali, a Dallas based family nurse practitioner, the findings are no surprise. Her Supreme Wisdom Family Health Clinic specializes in serving the medically underserved. “People in Dallas that don’t have health insurance are usually referred to Parkland Hospital, the place where President John F. Kennedy died. They have very long waits and I believe receive substandard care. Health insurance makes the difference,” she said.
Mrs. Ali drives around Dallas making house calls like country doctors of days gone by. “There is an epidemic of high blood pressure and diabetes in the Black community. For many people even when they have medicine, they save it so they don’t run out. That can be deadly because their blood pressure is always high.
“Even the seniors who have Medicare which only pays 80 percent, many still can’t afford to buy their prescriptions. So they take half of their medicine, or cut the pills in half, or only take it when they have symptoms of their illness,” she said.
For many of the uninsured, according to the report, the increased likelihood of being diagnosed with a disease–such as cancer in an advanced stage–greatly reduces chances of survival. The Institute of Medicine found uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than adults with private health insurance.
Another recent academic study found that uninsured adults between the ages of 55 and 64 are even more likely to die prematurely. For this group, a lack of health insurance is the third leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer.
The Families USA study highlights the need for healthcare reform, which some states are considering. In Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has pushed the Illinois Covered plan to expand access to health care.
Among other study findings:
– In New York 25 people die each week because of a lack of health insurance. Between 2000 and 2006, 9,900 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 died.
In California more than 8 people die every day because of a lack of health insurance.Between 2000 and 2006, 19,900 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 died.
In Florida 6 people die daily because of a lack of health insurance.Between 2000 and 2006, more than 13,600 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 died.
Families USA estimates more than 18 working-age Illinoisans die each week due to lack of health insurance. In 2006, the total estimated deaths were 960 people in Illinois.
– Across the United States in 2006, twice as many people died from lack of health insurance as died from homicide.
While the report did not offer solutions to the problem, the lack of health care insurance is a major topic of discussion as the 2008 presidential campaign moves forward. Both Democratic candidates have talked about the need for a universal health plan.