New study reveals 1 out of 3 Americans without health insurance in last 2 years.

That’s roughly 86.7 million people. That’s up from the 45 million I wrote about back in 2005 when my cousin drowned on her living room couch because she didn’t have health insurance to go to the doctor. Over the last two years one-third of Americans spent at least part of that time without any health insurance:

The study, commissioned by the consumer health advocacy group Families USA, found 86.7 million Americans were uninsured at one point during the past two years.

Among the report’s key findings:

• Nearly three out of four uninsured Americans were without health insurance for at least six months.

• Almost two-thirds were uninsured for nine months or more.

• Four out of five of the uninsured were in working families.

• People without health insurance are less likely to have a usual doctor and often go without screenings or preventative care.

“The huge number of people without health coverage is worse than an epidemic,” Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said in a press release. “Inaction on health care reform in 2009 cannot be an option for the tens of millions of people who lack or lose health coverage each year … the cost of doing nothing is too high.”

There really isn’t a good excuse for this. There are several examples of national health care elsewhere that work pretty well. Japan has a pretty good system that would be worth emulating to some degree as does France.

But according to some Republicans, you don’t have a right to health care. They consider it a privilege not everyone deserves:

Today, President Obama is hosting a summit to discuss reforming the nation’s health care system with “about 150 elected officials and representatives of groups that have much at stake in the outcome.” In response, Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) went on MSNBC to explain his opposition to Obama’s stated goal of comprehensive health care reform, arguing that health care is “a privilege,” not a right:

WAMP: Listen, health care a privilege. […]

MSNBC: Well, it’s a privilege? Health care? I mean if you have cancer right now, do you see it as a privilege to get treatment?

WAMP: I was just about to say, for some people it’s a right. But for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right.

Wamp went on to claim that many Americans are uninsured by choice because they “rejected” the insurance plan offered by their employers. Asked to respond to Wamp, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) remarked “Well my reaction is that it was said by somebody who has a really good health [insurance] plan as a member of the House of Representatives.” “More importantly than that [health care] is a right in this country,” Brown concluded.

It is true that access to health care isn’t a right in America as enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but I think it’s time it should be. Too many people are without health insurance and too many more are under insured. Obama looks like he’s serious about changing those facts. And the Republicans are already lining up to obstruct it in any way that they can. Why do the Republicans hate America?

11 comments

  1. I think your post points up something without stating it outright: the issue is not insurance at all, the issue is health care.

    A brief explanation of my above opinion. Billions of dollars a year are paid to insurance companies.  A vast number of those dollars go to insurance company overhead and profits (big profits). That means none of those dollars (overhead and profit) provide so much as an aspirin. Health care does not need this “middleman.” Even assuming universal health care has an “overhead,” logically, with only one “corporation” instead of many, this sum should be less than the current amount. As for profit, a government plan would exclude that entirely.

    And that doesn’t even address my issue with rapacious, greedy, drug companies, doctors, medical equipment folks, and hospitals.

  2. I’ve just been to Free Republic (I feel dirty now).  Obama is going to destroy the best health care system in the world.

    Oh, and the Recession is all his fault too- of course, he’ll try and blame Bush, but he isn’t brave enough to debate with Rush.

  3. I’ve just been to Free Republic (I feel dirty now).

    I hope you had your shots before heading over there. Of course I hope you had the insurance to get your shots before heading over there.

  4. No worries about LH – he’s got evil socialized medicine where he’s from.  Just wait in line for two months, fill out these forms, and get the wrong shot from an indifferent public servant.

    Or to hear the apologists of the US system tell it, anyway.

  5. Even assuming universal health care has an “overhead,” logically, with only one “corporation” instead of many, this sum should be less than the current amount. As for profit, a government plan would exclude that entirely.

    There’s no point not assuming a huge amount of overhead going into a government ran health care system, that’s really not an issue of contention. Auditing and oversight rules for spending government money guarantee a predictable amount of overhead.

    The real issue is, even if it costs as much or more than our current system, it’s going to service many more Americans than the system currently does. Furthermore, you can’t convince me that the wealthiest Americans are going to find themselves suddenly without access to health care by the poorest Americans having access. If there’s money to be made then there will be an economy for private health care even allowing for nationalized health care.

  6. The funny thing is all of my immunizations and health care I got when I had access to nationalized health care courtesy of the military was always pretty damned good for what it was.

  7. Amazing how GOP hates gov’t intervention in anything, cuz the gov;t can’t do it right, except for their sacred cow , the military, they can do no wrong…fucking hypocrites..

  8. I haven’t had real health insurance since I was terminated back in Aug. 2000.

    I’ve been rejected for insurance 4 times because of my weight/height ratio.

    Amazing how they will insure a smoker, but not an overweight person. I would have no problem paying a little extra like the smokers do. I do have a problem with paying twice as much for state health insurance.

    Health insurance is just a big freaking scam and has actually increased the cost of health care.

    And lets not ignore the predatory ER practices, people go into an ER in pain and not necessarily thinking clearly, and then they are expected to pay these outlandish costs which are never disclosed to you until after the fact.

    I’ve thought about getting a tattoo on my chest, something along the lines of: “By resuscitating me you agree that doing so will be considered an act of charity.”

  9. I do hope the USA finally joins the rest of the modern world in realizing that Socialized health care is a requirement for a healthy country.

    There really is no sensible argument against it.
    My own experience in evil socialist Canada required back surgery that would have bankrupted my family had we lived in the USA, when I was in my early 20’s.  So my experience of months of physio to avoid the surgery, xrays, ct scans, seeing 4 doctors, then 2 neurosurgeons, surgery followed by a week in hospital… total out of pocket expense? nothin

    Cost to the country, well a profit, because rather then ending up disabled and a social burden, I have worked and paid takxes for 20 years.

    Now it wasn’t all free, but thankfully as a
    University student at the time I had a drug program that covered all of pain meds for 6 months (T3, and Toradol) for 6 dollars.

    I’ve read about Les’ and his families medical issues and every time it makes me angry to read how his country neglects the needs of it’s citizens, being so short sighted not to realize healthy people living without fear for their health, are more productive and happier.

  10. It’s not just the uninsured who are not going to the doctor anymore: add in the growing number of people who have been forced to move from traditional plans to a high deductible plan with Health Savings Account (HSA). My deductible was $2500, this year it’s $3000. So my company pays out $5652.00 in premiums and the insurance company doesn’t pay out anything (other than the cost of processing the deductible statements) until I’ve paid out another $3000 in allowed medical expenses. I’m very lucky (so far) in having to take only two (generic available) maintenance meds, which cost me just $4.00 each per month. But when my doctor told me he wanted me to have a stress test and ultrasound, looking for the cause of some (new) worrying symptoms, I asked him to choose which one was most important because I just didn’t have the cash to pay for both tests. From talking to others, I hear the same story. They put off going to the doctor or having tests done because they just don’t have the means to pay that upfront $$. I wonder if whomever came up with the HSA program had this outcome in mind?
    It just doesn’t make any real sense. Finding out early if someone has a problem is so often touted as the best way to save lives and keep ultimate costs in line. HSA’s work in just the opposite direction.

  11. i really do believe that we must take the “middle ground” to effectively solve this problem, i believe the government should invest into a gov. owned health care provider that bases its costs on the over all health of its client rather than a group of its clients. lets say a moderately healthy person pays 100 dollars a month, ( just throwing out a number)and that money should be like a “bank account”.  lets say that 2 yrs later he had to be emitted to the hospital for an illness. so in that time he now has a total of 2400 dollars, and that would be used to pay. but if there is a bill that cannot be covered by his amount then the government would pay 40% of the cost leaving the remainder to be payed by the person. and then later the person must pay back the money, either with a payment plan or incorporated with the cost of the persons health care.

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