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article imageOp-Ed: Why do Americans need a change in health care reform?

By KJ Mullins     Mar 19, 2010 in Health
Health care reform may not matter to you, unless you are one of the millions who can't afford health insurance or have a pre-existing condition. Then you may have been knocking on doors when you're sick to have them unanswered.
Many Americans have never had to face the reality of life and death because of lack of insurance. They are the lucky ones. In a 1993 study it was found that those who are uninsured have a 25% higher risk of death than those who are insured.
In December 2009 the National Center for Health Statistics released a study that dealt with the issue of insurance and mortality. From a beginning pool of 33,994 the researchers narrowed their study to 9004 who had complete data and were not insured through medicare or VA benefits. The information was gathered from 1988 and 1994 with a follow-up through 2000.
At the time of the final follow-up 8653 (96.9%) were still alive. Of those 16.2 were uninsured. Of the 351 who had died 17.2 per cent did not have insurance.
Smokers had a higher uninsured rate at 22.8 per cent compared to nonsmokers at 14.9.
The conclusions from the study associated the lack of health insurance with as many as 44,789 deaths a year in the United States. While there is care for those who are uninsured like community health centers they do not meet the needs of the ill.
Another study by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance rated the risk of death because of lack of insurance higher than the above study at 40 percent.
Lead author Andrew Wilper, M.D., who currently teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said that those without private insurance have a higher risk of death regardless of their socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health.
“The Institute of Medicine, using older studies, estimated that one American dies every 30 minutes from lack of health insurance,” remarked David Himmelstein, study co-author, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance. “Even this grim figure is an underestimate — now one dies every 12 minutes.”
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have universal health care. That could be why the United States is ranked 37 by the World Health Organization when it comes to health systems.
The nations that have universal health care all have higher rankings. Those nations are not failing.
It is something to think about.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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