Update on deaths from being uninsured

Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured

Families USA
June 2012

Key Findings

* Across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010.

* Between 2005 and 2010, the number of people who died prematurely each year due to a lack of health coverage rose from 20,350 to 26,100.

* Between 2005 and 2010, the total number of people who died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage was 134,120.

Why Insurance Matters

* The uninsured are less likely to have a usual source of care outside of the emergency room.

* The uninsured often go without screenings and preventive care.

* The uninsured often delay or forgo needed medical care.

* Uninsured Americans are sicker and die earlier than those who have insurance.

* The uninsured pay more for medical care.


By Don McCanne, MD

In 2010, about 26,000 of the nearly 50 million people without health insurance died due to the lack of that insurance. At best, about 26 million people will remain uninsured if the Affordable Care act is upheld by the Supreme Court. That means that we will continue to accept about 13,000 deaths per year as a consequence of our failure to enact a single payer national health program.

It is one thing to accept inordinate financial waste in our system in order to cater to the private insurance industry, but it is quite another to accept so much suffering and death. The former reflects on our illogical willingness to accept social injustices in order to cater to the moneyed class, but to knowingly accept the latter reflects on the most basic moral fiber of our society.

Is it that people don't understand? Or are we really that animalistic?


Today's Quote of the Day used updated numbers from Families USA on the number of deaths that result from being uninsured. Their numbers were based on the 2002 methodology of the Institute of Medicine.
However, under "Methodology," the Families USA report states, "A study published by Harvard Medical School researchers late in 2009 that used more recent data found that the lack of health insurance now raises mortality rates by 40 percent. If we had applied the latter estimate of the impact of uninsurance on mortality, rather than the 25 percent figure used by the IOM, our mortality estimates would have increased substantially."
The numbers are worse than those reported earlier today. Rather than zeroing in on sterile recalculations, let's think about the real people whose lives are lost and what we need to do to prevent that in the future.
The Harvard study, authored by co-founders of PNHP and their colleagues: