26K Die for Lack of Health Insurance


Across the nation, 26,100 people died in 2010 without access to health insurance, a figure higher than the 20,350 who died without coverage in 2005. From 2005-2010, a total of 134,120 died in the U.S. because they lacked health coverage, according to a new study.

The figures were timed for release about a week before many expect the Supreme Court to reveal its decision on the Affordable Care Act. Calling the deaths a "tragedy" and a "shame," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, which sponsored the study, said the law is central to the health of the uninsured.

"Because of the way we currently provide and charge for health care, many millions of Americans without health coverage are denied regular access to quality care and many of these people face an unjust sentence of a less healthy life and an earlier death," Pollack said.

Two previous studies indicate the number of deaths associated with a lack of insurance has been rising over the years, especially as employees were laid off in the recession and some companies cut back their health plans.

A 2002 study from the Institute of Medicine showed close to 18,000 deaths in the U.S. were directly linked to not having health insurance.

A 2009 study from Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, which were based on different parameters from the IOM study, said the figure rose to more than 44,500. The study analyzed death rates, taking into account factors like education, income, smoking and drinking, and was based on survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Working-age Americans without health insurance had a 40 percent higher risk of death than their insured counterparts, the 2009 study said. Without insurance, many patients can't afford doctor visits, treatments or medications. Oftentimes, uninsured patients will put off their treatments, which can make health problems worse and make treating them more difficult. "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 can afford their medications," the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wilper, said at the time.
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Source: Yellowbrix

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