Friday, September 18, 2009

Lack of insurance causes more than 44,000 U.S. deaths annually, study says

By Katherine Harmon

Going without health insurance can delay when people obtain primary and preventative care, potentially resulting in poorer health. Even more gravely, a lack of private health insurance brings an increased risk of death; uninsurance is to blame for some 44,789 adult deaths across the U.S. every year, according to a new study published online today in the American Journal of Public Health.

The findings show that uninsured Americans—between the ages of 17 and 64—have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have private insurance. (Those enrolled in government insurance programs, such as Medicaid and Department of Veterans Affairs insurance, were excluded from the study.) About 46.3 million Americans didn't have health insurance as of 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the number is estimated to be higher now since the recession has forced many off of employer health plans.

Previous research by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) employing older data had put the risk of death due to uninsurance closer to 25 percent.

The authors analyzed information from surveys and health examinations of more than 9,000 people that was collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1986 and 2000 and checked against death records. Even after controlling for age, gender, race, income, education, employment, smoking, alcohol use, assessed health and BMI, the researchers found "lack of health insurance significantly increased the risk of mortality," they wrote in the paper. …

Lack of insurance causes more than 44,000 U.S. deaths annually, study says

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