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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 2, 2010

LACK OF HEALTH INSURANCE KILLS 27,000 A YEAR

NY TIMES - A new report warned that without comprehensive legislation, more than 275,000 adults nationwide will die over the next decade because of a lack of health insurance. . .

An earlier study by the Institute of Medicine estimated that 18,000 people died prematurely in 2000 because they lacked insurance; the Urban Institute updated that figure to 22,000 in 2006. The new study, by liberal advocacy group Families USA, applied the same methodology used in the previous reports to drill down and calculate, on both a national and state-by-state basis, the latest figures.

Not surprisingly, many of the states with the largest number of projected premature deaths also have the largest populations. The top 12 states, in order of estimated premature deaths, are: California (34,600), Texas (31,700), Florida (25,400), New York (13,900), Georgia (11,500), North Carolina (9,600), Illinois (9,400), Ohio (8,900), Louisiana (7,700), Michigan (7,600), Pennsylvania (7,500) and Tennessee (7,500).

A growing body of research has explored the connection between a lack of health insurance and an increased risk of death. Uninsured people are more likely to skip screenings and other preventive care, so their medical problems are often diagnosed later, when they are more advanced and tougher to treat. The uninsured are also more likely to skimp on necessary medical care, whether it's prescription drugs to keep their blood pressure in check or surgery to clear up clogged arteries. . .

Experts say that the new study's estimates of premature death likely err on the conservative side. The report calculated that lack of insurance increased mortality rates by 25 percent. But research conducted using more recent data found that not having insurance increases death rates by 40 percent.

In addition, these numbers don't include children. Children are generally very healthy, and many are eligible for coverage under public programs like the state Children's Health Insurance Program. But many children aren't enrolled in Medicaid or other programs for which they're eligible. According to research cited in the Families USA study, hospital mortality rates were 60 percent higher for children without insurance.


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