Harvard Study: 45,000 Deaths A Year Because Of Lack Of Health Insurance

A 2009 study is meant to offer a strong reminder of why lawmakers should continue to try to provide health insurance to the millions of Americans who don’t have it and continue to fund Obamacare or find a suitable replacement.

“Replacing it with nothing” is not a viable option.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School said that a lack of insurance coverage can be tied to about 45,000 deaths a year in the United States.  That’s per year.  Compare that to the 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

“If you extend coverage, you can save lives,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard who is one of the study’s authors. The research was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The Harvard study found that people without health insurance had a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance — as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care.

The risk appears to have increased since 1993, when a similar study found the risk of death was 25 percent greater for the uninsured.  The increase in risk, according to the study, is likely to be a result of at least two factors.

One is the greater difficulty the uninsured have in finding care, and the other is improvements in medical care for insured people with treatable chronic conditions like high blood pressure.

“As health care for the insured gets better, the gap between the insured and uninsured widens,” Dr. Woolhandler said.



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