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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

For millions of Americans, having health coverage can be the difference between life and death. The uninsured are less likely to have a usual source of medical care, and, as a result, are more likely to forgo preventive care or delay treating an illness. Without access to preventive screenings and care, many uninsured Americans suffer premature and preventable deaths-they are literally dying for coverage.

For millions of Americans having health care coverage can be the difference between life and death. The uninsured are less likely to have a source of care outside the emergency room, and as a result are more likely to forgo preventative care or delay treating an illness. Without access to preventative screenings and care, many uninsured Americans are suffering premature and preventable deaths-they are literally dying for coverage.

Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act will take steps to reduce the numbers of uninsured in America. Beginning in 2014, millions of Americans will be eligible for assistance with the cost of health coverage. In addition, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage or charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

However, the fate of the health care law is in question, with the Supreme Court currently considering its the constitutionality. A decision to strike down the law could have dire consequences for the millions in need of health coverage.

But just how many Americans are suffering due to being uninsured? In an effort to estimate the number of Americans who are dying for lack of health coverage, Families USA applied the methodology developed by the Institute of Medicine to state-level population and mortality data to create a state-by-state analysis of deaths due to lack of health insurance. The report, Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured, found the following:

  • Across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010.
  • The five states with the most premature deaths due to uninsurance in 2010 were California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia.

The numbers of uninsured will continue to rise, and thousands of Americans will continue to die preventable deaths if something isn’t done to mend our broken health care system. The Affordable Care Act will do this, but only if the Supreme Court does the right thing both morally and legally, and upholds the constitutionality of the law.

This report shows just how important this law is to the millions of Americans suffering from lack of health coverage-for many, it is the difference between life and death.