People in US dying fr lack of insurance
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|Wed, 03-19-2008 - 8:38pm|
Per some discussions about health care in the US versus universal health care, I thought this article was relevant.
Lack of coverage hurts
John Arthur Hutchison
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Report: Some Ohioans dying because they don't have health insurance
A new report estimates how many people in each state are dying because they don't have health insurance.
From 2000 to 2006, the number of adults ages 25 to 64 who died in Ohio because of a lack of insurance is estimated at more than 5,100, or more than two people per day, according to the report released Tuesday by Washington D.C.-based Families USA, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for health care consumers.
The report is based on national studies by two Washington, D.C.-based organizations.
In 2002, the Institute of Medicine said there was a direct link between a lack of health coverage and deaths from
health-related causes, estimating 18,000 adults died in 2000 from a lack of health insurance.
The Urban Institute updated that estimate, reporting at least 22,000 adults died in 2006 because of a lack of health insurance.
About 1.3 million Ohioans do not have health insurance, officials said. Information was not broken down by county.
Uninsured people are less likely to have a regular source of care, go without routine screenings and preventive measures, delay or forgo care, and are charged more than people with insurance, according to the report.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was among several officials who discussed the issue during a statewide conference call with media members.
Brown said finances and the high cost of insurance are forcing people to make difficult choices when it comes to their health.
"Families shouldn't have to choose between buying health coverage and putting food on the table," Brown said. "That's what makes the next two years so crucial in what we're going to do about health care."
Carl Owens of the statewide coalition Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage said many people don't understand the issue, especially since hospital emergency rooms aren't supposed to turn people away.
"It's clear too many Ohioans believe that because ER rooms must accept everyone that Ohioans don't die from lack of health care coverage," he said. "The problem starts invisibly and silently. It starts with a woman not getting a mammogram. It starts when a man does not get diagnosed when having high blood pressure."
John Platz, chairman of the Lake Hospital System's board, said after the conference call that he was aware of the report.
"The best I can say, and what logic will tell you, is if you don't have health insurance or don't get treatment somewhere, drastic things can happen," he said. "You are better off with it than without it."
He added that Lake Hospital System turns away no one.
"We treat everyone who comes through these doors, even if they aren't insured," he said. "We don't turn away anyone."
Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director, said four out of five people who are uninsured are from families in which the breadwinner is working.
Many uninsured people work for small businesses that can't afford to offer employee benefits, or in lower-wage jobs in which insurance isn't provided or is too expensive for them, Pollack said.
"The conclusions are sadly clear - a lack of health care insurance is a matter of life and death for people in the state of Ohio," he said.
Brown highlighted several statistics listed in the report, indicating uninsured people are:
* Four times less likely to have a regular source of health care.
* 30 percent less likely to have a checkup and be diagnosed with a disease in the early stage.
* Three times more likely to delay seeking medical care.
* 25 percent more likely to die prematurely.
* Unable to negotiate the discounts on hospital and doctor charges that insurance companies are able to do for their clients.
U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Akron, said it is unacceptable that people are struggling to pay for adequate coverage in the most advanced nation in the world.
"Healthy Americans are being priced out of health care," she said. "It is my sincere hope that reports like the one released by Families USA today will further our case for the urgent need to provide quality and affordable health care to every American."
U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, has introduced legislation with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, that will increase the opportunity for people to purchase affordable, quality health insurance.
The healthCARE Act of 2007, H.R. 2351, would establish insurance pools at the state level very similar to the program used by federal workers.
Small businesses will be able to purchase coverage for their employees, and lower-income individuals will be eligible to participate. The cost would be subsidized at the same level as the coverage federal employees and members of Congress receive.
"Far too many Americans lack health insurance or are under-insured, and the costs are huge," LaTourette said. "The lack of health insurance coverage is estimated to cost our country between $65 (billion) and $130 billion annually in lost productivity, emergency hospital visits and other related losses."
Staff writer Nick Carrabine contributed to this report.