A study published online today [Thursday] estimates nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance. That figure is about two and a half times higher than an estimate from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002.
The new study, "Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults," appears in today's [Thursday's] online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
The Harvard-based researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.
Lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper, who worked at Harvard Medical School when the study was done and who now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School, said, "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 study, which analyzed data from national surveys carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assessed death rates after taking education, income and many other factors including smoking, drinking and obesity into account. It estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually.
Bin Laden killed 3,000 people on 9/11. Lack of health insurance kills fifteen times that number every year.
It's easy to forget what we're fighting for with all the ranting and raving and lying going on. This isn't about soaking the rich or getting votes or growing government or turning the country into a socialist utopia; it's about saving a lot of lives and improving the quality of life for a lot more people.
Let's try to remember that.
(HT: Andrew Sullivan.)