The New York Times reports on a study that found that children without health insurance who are hospitalized are much more likely to die—how much more likely? Well, almost half the kids who died after hospitalization were uninsured, far out of proportion to their numbers in the general population. http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/lacking-insurance-hospitalized-children-more-likely-to-die/?hpw
The story notes that kids are not especially likely to be hospitalized and that most kids who are recover and that is all good.
But here is what is really appalling: the study period is 1988 to 2005—and for the last half of that period the Children’s Health Insurance Program (known as Healthy Families in California) was in effect—meaning that most low and moderate income children in this country had access to affordable coverage. Yet there are still seven million children uninsured in this country, including over 600,000 in California.
Study after study has demonstrated that uninsured children are less likely to get treatment for serious conditions like asthma and diabetes, conditions that can be managed with good care but that without it can be literally life-threatening. Now we have a study that documents what policy types had suspected: uninsured children are more likely to die than children with health insurance.
Before Healthy Families was created, health care costs were the most common cause of homelessness among families—a family would literally spend next month’s rent to get a kid seen in the emergency room. Any parent can imagine what that choice feels like: spend next month’s rent or face the risk that your child will be one of the 1,000 a year who die after hospitalization because you waited too long.
As we look forward to the week’s debate over the proposals in Congress, we agree with many who say that the proposals could be improved but we also remember that parent in the middle of the night making the choice between homelessness and a child’s life. No one should face that choice.