Donate Today!

EMAIL SIGN UP!

 

Progressive Community

The press releases posted here have been submitted by

America's Progressive Community

For further information or to comment on this press release, please contact the organization directly.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2009
11:27 AM

CONTACT: Physicians for a National Health Program

Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.
David Himmelstein, M.D.
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006, mark@pnhp.org

Over 2,200 Veterans Died in 2008 Due to Lack of Health Insurance

Harvard researchers say 1.46 million working-age vets lacked health coverage last year, increasing their death rate

WASHINGTON - November 10 - A research team at Harvard Medical School estimates 2,266 U.S. military veterans under the age of 65 died last year because they lacked health insurance and thus had reduced access to care. That figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001.

The researchers, who released their analysis today [Tuesday], pointedly say the health reform legislation pending in the House and Senate will not significantly affect this grim picture.

The Harvard group analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2009 Current Population Survey, which surveyed Americans about their insurance coverage and veteran status, and found that 1,461,615 veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 were uninsured in 2008. Veterans were only classified as uninsured if they neither had health insurance nor received ongoing care at Veterans Health Administration (VA) hospitals or clinics.

Using their recently published findings in the American Journal of Public Health that show being uninsured raises an individual’s odds of dying by 40 percent (causing 44,798 deaths in the United States annually among those aged 17 to 64), they arrived at their estimate of 2,266 preventable deaths of non-elderly veterans in 2008. (See table.)

“Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people - too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School who testified before Congress about uninsured veterans in 2007 and carried out the analysis released today [Tuesday]. “As a result, veterans go without the care they need every day in the U.S., and thousands die each year. It’s a disgrace.”

Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the analysis and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, commented, “On this Veterans Day we should not only honor the nearly 500 soldiers who have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the more than 2,200 veterans who were killed by our broken health insurance system. That’s six preventable deaths a day.”

He continued: “These unnecessary deaths will continue under the legislation now before the House and Senate. Those bills would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013, and leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run. We need a solution that works for all veterans - and for all Americans - single-payer national health insurance.”

While many Americans believe that all veterans can get care from the VA, even combat veterans may not be able to obtain VA care, Woolhandler said. As a rule, VA facilities provide care for any veteran who is disabled by a condition connected to his or her military service and care for specific medical conditions acquired during military service.

Woolhandler said veterans who pass a means test are eligible for care in VA facilities, but have lower priority status (Priority 5 or 7, depending upon income level). Veterans with higher incomes are classified in the lowest priority group and are not eligible for VA enrollment.

*****
Some sources for possible patient stories are available upon request. Please contact Mark Almberg at (312) 782-6006 or mark@pnhp.org.

Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is an organization of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance, often called an improved Medicare for All. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions or call (312) 782-6006.

 

Age Number of
Uninsured Veterans, 2008
Percent of Uninsured who
are Veterans
Deaths/100,0000 Population Excess Deaths Among All Uninsured Americans Excess Deaths Among Uninsured Veterans, 2008
18 to 24* 54,022
0.65% 81.4 2,388 16
25 to 34 224,351 2.06% 104.4 3,842 79
35 to 44 300,859 3.68% 193.3 5,685 209
45 to 54 426,348 5.90% 432.0 10,201 602
55 to 64 456,034 10.32% 906.9 13,175 1,360
Total
(Under 65)
1,461,615 3.70% 44,798 2,266
Total
(All Ages)
1,540,795 3.84%
###

Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 15,000 members and chapters across the United States.



Comments are closed

1 Comment so far

Show All

Comments

Note: Disqus 2012 is best viewed on an up to date browser. Click here for information. Instructions for how to sign up to comment can be viewed here. Our Comment Policy can be viewed here. Please follow the guidelines. Note to Readers: Spam Filter May Capture Legitimate Comments...