Dying for Coverage

California likes to be first at everything. Unfortunately, according to a new series of state-by-state reports by Families USA, we’re also first when it comes to deaths due to uninsurance. You can find this sinister stat at Dying for Coverage in California.

They show that:

  • Every day, more than eight Californias die due to lack of coverage;
  • In 2006, 3,100 uninsured Californians died;
  • Between 2000 and 2006, 19,900 uninsured Californians died.

Other macabre findings include the fact that twice as many people died because they were uninsured than died from homicide. The study augments an early report by the Institute of Medicine, which found 18,000 Americans die annually because of uninsurance.

Why do people die for lack of insurance? Let’s see — in a generic nutshell: They’re afraid to go to the doctor because it will cost money. They don’t get the proper tests done to make sure they don’t have cancer or chronic disease. They don’t get the proper prescriptions filled for asthma or diabetes. They get sicker. They feel awful, but are too afraid to seek help because of the cost…then it’s too late.

So what to do about this?

Well — first, we wait about 10 months, according to U.S. Representative Pete Stark of California on a conference call releasing the report this morning. Specifically, we wait 291 days give or take a few hours and minutes to be exact for the departure of our sitting president, who Stark says is the “one individual in the U.S. who has done more to disadvantage people …particularly those with low incomes.’’ Specifically, with respect to regulations on who can qualify for Medicaid (Medi-Cal), expansions of children’s insurance, government negotiation for prescription drugs – you name it.

Next, we laud the seating of either (in no particular order) him or her. And then we see if the federal goverment stops being a hindrance to state efforts to provide universal coverage to children and expanded access to low-income families and adults. We’ll have issues with him and particularly his health plan, which would atomize the health insurance market and to essentially raise taxes — against his promise to do such — for every American who receives coverage through work.

Then, we get back to work.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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