Study Links Premature Deaths to Lack of Health Insurance in Calif.

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California has the highest number of residents who die prematurely each year because they lack health insurance, according to a national study released by Families USA, New America Media reports.

Nearly 7 million Californians do not have health insurance (New America Media, 6/20).

The report used the same research methods as a 2002 study from the Institute of Medicine that linked a lack of health insurance coverage to premature deaths (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 6/20).

California Findings

According to the study, about 3,164 California residents between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely in 2010 because they lacked health insurance. The figure translates to about 61 residents per week.

Californians are less likely than residents of other states to have health insurance, receive employer-based health insurance and be able to afford coverage, according to New America Media. California residents also are at a greater risk of being denied coverage for preexisting conditions than individuals living in other states.

In addition, the study found that a large percentage of the Hispanic population in California is uninsured, which is similar to findings in other states.

Ron Pollack -- executive director of Families USA -- said that many Hispanic residents work low-wage jobs that make it difficult for them to obtain health insurance.

National Findings

The study found that the number of U.S. residents who died prematurely because they did not have health insurance increased between 2005 and 2010, from 20,350 to 26,100.

According to the study, 134,120 U.S. residents died prematurely from a lack of health coverage during the five-year period.

Experts Discuss Effect of Federal Health Law

Pollack said, "[F]or the millions of Americans without health coverage, only the [federal health reform law] offers the promise of access to affordable coverage and to a longer and healthier life" (New America Media, 6/20).

However, John Graham -- director of health care studies at the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute -- said that the reform law "has suppressed the economy." He said the law "is actually the cause of unemployment, which leads to uninsurance" ("KPCC News, "KPCC, 6/20).

Potential Implications of Supreme Court Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court soon will rule on the constitutionality of the reform law.

It will decide whether the federal government can require residents to purchase insurance and whether federal lawmakers have the power to pressure states to expand insurance coverage through Medicaid.

The court is expected to release its decision by the end of June (California Healthline, 6/20).

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, said California is "aggressively implementing" the law's provisions and has a "great stake" in the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.

He said that about 50,000 Californians will lose health care coverage if the court strikes down the law, while nearly 90% of state residents could have coverage if the Supreme Court upholds the law (New America Media, 6/20).

Camille Lily
The assertion that it is only because of a lack of a few pieces of paper that death is caused stretches one's belief in surveys and studies, especially when prepared by stakeholders. One has to actually go to the doctor for even health care to work. What happened to the law that requires care to be administered in emergency rooms? Is it not being utilized anymore? Is, in fact, health care being rationed?
Vashti Winterburg
Mr. Collings: Since it was the health insurance companies (esp. Wellpoint) that wrote most of the ACA plus Big Pharma and the Hospitals that were the biggest benefactors of the ACA it's not clear to me who you think is taking over health care. You seem to prefer the status quo where one of the richest countries in the world has the most expensive health care with 3rd world outcomes while 1/6 of our population is uncovered and another 1/6 has essentially bogus insurance. Our so-called health care system is expensive, inefficient, ineffective and immoral. I am no fan of the ACA. I am a fan of a Medicare for all single payer system. As a veteran I like the VA system which, of course, is socialistic (Uncle Sam owns it all)I could even have gone for Hawaii's system which is the second cheapest in the nation (no for profit insurance) after N.D. but has the second highest participants after Massachusetts. Drop the ideology and get some facts and some compassion.
Tim Colling
Vashti Winterburg: since you offer no real proof for your assertions they lack credibility. As I said in my previous post, exactly what I have come to expect from those trying to promote the national healthcare takeover act, not with facts but with empty rhetoric and with not-well-grounded assessments and assertions."
Vashti Winterburg
I'd like to know how the health care law has "suppressed the economy" and led to fewer people having health insurance. Since I've seen estimates of as many as 85,000 Americans a year dying for lack of health insurance, I'd also be interested in the background of this research. Who paid for it, etc. The CIA last year attributed the U.S.'s lousy health care statistics to lack of access to health care. Not smoking, not obesity, not lack of exercise - lack of access. When you have 50 million people with no health insurance and another 50 million with essentially bogus health insurance this is an access problem. Any other excuse is drivel.
Tim Colling
If you look more closely at the organizations who sponsored and then reported on this so-called research, you will find the SEIU, Pro-Obama groups, Pro-healthcare takeover act groups, and self-described "ethnic news organizations". In other words, exactly the collection of groups that you would expect to find trying to promote the national healthcare takeover act, not with facts but with empty rhetoric and with not-well-grounded assessments and assertions.

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