Grim U.S. death toll from lack of medical insurance | National Union of Public and General Employees

Grim U.S. death toll from lack of medical insurance

Study estimates that 45,000 die each year. The number of Americans without health insurance rose to 46.3 million last year - 15.4% of the entire U.S. population.

Ottawa (23 Sept. 2009) - Here's another reason - a big one - to be thankful for Canada's public health care system. All Canadians are covered when they get sick and the government pays the bill.

A new Harvard University study, released by the American Journal of Public Health, estimates that 45,000 U.S. deaths a year are associated with the lack of health insurance.

Except for targeted groups, such as the elderly and military veterans, there is no general public health care in the United States. Citizens must get coverage through their work or buy it on their own from private insurance companies.

As a result, more than one of every seven Americans has no coverage at all. And a shocking number die when they get ill.

Harvard researchers examined government health surveys from more than 9,000 people aged 17 to 64, taken from 1986-1994, and followed up through 2000. They determined that the uninsured have a 40% higher risk of death than those with private health insurance because they are unable to obtain necessary medical care.

The researchers extrapolated their results to census data from 2005 and to calculate the total number of deaths associated with lack of health insurance.

Other studies have also shown that the uninsured are at greater risk of mortality than the insured. A 2007 study from The American Cancer Society found that uninsured cancer patients are 1.6 times more likely to die within five years of their diagnosis than those with private insurance. In 2002, the Institute of Medicine estimated that lack of health insurance caused about 18,000 deaths every year.

The latest findings come amid the fierce debate over health care reform in the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau says the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 46.3 million last year, up from 45.7 million in 2007 - 15.4% of the entire American population.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults - pdf