“Uniquely” American Death Panels: Lack of Health Insurance Associated with 45,000 Premature Deaths/year

by JC

A new study published online yesterday by the American Journal of Public Health brings to the fore the stark reality of undertaking underwriting in America. Modern insurance corporation underwriting has become the de novo death panel of the 21st century.

While tea baggers spent the month of August crying about how health care reform was going to pull the plug on grandma, and Sarah Palin breathed life into lies about government death panels, almost 4,000 Americans died prematurely because of lack of health care stemming from no health insurance. I have before, and will continue to lay the blame at the feet of those who fight against true health care reform.

It is unforgivable that this nation continues to struggle to provide the basic human necessity of health care to its citizens. While insurance reforms may, if successful, lead to a lowering of this number, that will be cold comfort to the hundreds of thousands of families that will have had to bury their loved ones before their time.

According to HarvardScience:

The study, conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.

“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health,” said lead author Andrew Wilper, M.D., who currently teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “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 afford their medications.”

The study, which analyzed data from national surveys carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assessed death rates after taking into account education, income, and many other factors, including smoking, drinking, and obesity. It estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually…

Deaths associated with lack of health insurance now exceed those caused by many common killers such as kidney disease. An increase in the number of uninsured and an eroding medical safety net for the disadvantaged likely explain the substantial increase in the number of deaths, as the uninsured are more likely to go without needed care. Another factor contributing to the widening gap in the risk of death between those who have insurance and those who do not is the improved quality of care for those who can get it.

“Historically, every other developed nation has achieved universal health care through some form of nonprofit national health insurance. Our failure to do so means that all Americans pay higher health care costs, and 45,000 pay with their lives.” — Steffie Woolhandler, study co-author, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance

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  1. Big Swede

    “The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomic, health behaviors, and baseline health”

    I wonder how they factor in comparatives, especially with transients who live under bridges and chug Lysol.

    • JC

      Read the study, BS. Then report back.

      But I find your implied notion that mentally ill and addicted homeless people skewed the study, therefor minimizing or discrediting its findings, rather disgusting.

      You, too could become that person living under the bridge. Or your kids or grandkids. Would you be so hard-hearted if you discovered one of your own living under a bridge, and could do nothing about it? Would you just turn your back and walk away?

      What’s your solution, BS, other than to dump on those who no longer have a bootstrap by which to pull themselves up?

  2. problembear

    Most of the underinsured avoid the doctor’s office also. Which drives costs even higher.

    Intelligent people know the answer is better healthcare access for all saves in the long run.

    Swede- many of those transients you ridicule are veterans who fought for your freedom to make an ass out of yourself. Enjoy!

  3. Tim

    I keep seeing these numbers, as if somehow they would be different until a national plan.

    I see nothing that deals with facts like:

    An additional 150,000 doctors would be needed to cover those who you want to add to the insurance rolls.

    If those people have bad lifestyle habits, it really wouldn’t matter much if they had medical treatment. People who continue to smoke, drink, not exercise are killing themselves whether they have insurance or not.

    Again, where is this going to be paid for?

    People already have many complaints about VA hospitals, Medicare going bankrupt etc. How would merely letting all Americans have access to shitty health care help them?

    As I’ve said before, you can hold up the rare cancer patients who make up less than 1% of cases as your sob story to ram this through, but aside from maybe Obama’s proposed soda tax, there is nothing here to deal with real habits that cause most of the disease in this country. Merely letting all the fat people go have a doctor tell them their fat and should lose weight on my dime doesn’t do a damn to get them off the couch.

  4. nitsrekab

    blinded by meaningless numbers, and fractured quotes
    all those uninsured people almost certainly died from some preventable disease or infection that must have grown from lack of “available” “affordable” insurance. But I (like all those who believe Canada health is better) digress.
    Once again thanks for everything guys, you have all been great.

  5. problembear

    In bs world the wealthy have a special dispensation, j-girl.

    It’s a sin for the rest of us….

  6. problembear

    We’re sinning right now at the chico saloon after sunburn day on the yellowstone.

    After two or three sins knee doesn’t hurt anymore….my companion mongo is terrorizing the tourists.

  7. Tim

    Again, actual discourse is discarded for 3rd grade arguments such as “rich bad, poor good.”

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