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?