Lack of health insurance is killing many more Americans than terrorism. As the Institute of Medicine documents, uninsured Americans get about half the medical care of those with insurance. They receive too little care, too late, get sicker and die sooner. For example, uninsured women with breast cancer have a 30 percent to 50 percent higher risk of dying than insured women. Uninsured car crash victims receive less care in the hospital and have a 37 percent higher mortality rate than privately insured patients.
One out of three Americans below age 65 -- 85 million people -- lacked private or public health insurance for all or part of 2003-2004. Millions more are underinsured.
Average family health insurance premiums will reach a projected $14,545 in 2006, more than double the 2001 average.
Much health spending is squandered on the mountainous red tape, profits and executive pay of private insurance and drug companies. As Dr. Marcia Angell explains in "The Truth About the Drug Companies," the highly profitable pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on taxpayer-funded research.
The National Coalition on Health Care, an alliance of about 100 corporations, pension funds, medical associations, insurers, unions, consumer and religious organizations, says, "Comprehensive health care reform is long overdue. Every year that reform is delayed, tens of millions of Americans live in peril, without health insurance; millions are harmed, and hundreds of thousands die needlessly, because of sub-standard care."
"The crisis in health care is the central economic problem facing America -- adversely affecting living standards, job creation and retention, wage growth, the adequacy and viability of pension benefits" and the global competitiveness of American business, says Coalition president Henry Simmons.
The Coalition calls for "health care coverage for all." It offers four different scenarios for universal coverage: employer and individual mandates and subsidies; expanding Medicare and other public health insurance; creating a new public program modeled on the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan; and establishing a universal single payer, publicly financed program.
If you want more facts about medical care realities in this country, I do recommend that you read the whole article. It's short, accessible and to the point.