I was pulling together some material for I talk on health issues that I'm giving tomorrow evening and ran across a factoid that I had seen before. It pertains to my "previous life" as founder and CEO of the free medical clinic in Waukegan, as well as my "present life" as Lake County Coroner.
According to information from the Institute of Medicine, adults without health insurance have death rates 25% greater than adults with private insurance. They attribute 18,000 deaths in 2000 to the lack of health insurance. The uninsured, almost daily, must make choices/decisions, do I see someone about my health/how I am feeling or do I pay my other bills, my rent or mortgage? Even those individuals without heath insurance who are lucky enough to have access to medical care often have other decisions to make. Should I fill my prescriptions (which for a diabetic with high blood pressure can easily be $400 a month) or can I stretch my medications by taking them every other or every third day?
Not seeking medical care when you need it and/or not getting the preventative care or health maintenance care you need is gambling with your health and life. Just as is not taking your meds that you need to maintain your health or not taking them as you ought. A number of these people gambling with their health lose their gamble and lose their life.
We as a society should not condone a system that makes it necessary for people to gamble with their health. We should not allow people to die because of their lack of health insurance limits their ability to access health care. Our healthcare system must be changed to become a more just system. The lack of health impairs our ability to maintain life and restricts our ability for the pursuit of happiness.
These deaths are preventable.