Report: 5 Nevadans Die Weekly for Lack of Insurance

By: Sandra Chereb AP
By: Sandra Chereb AP

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Five working-age Nevadans die each week
because they lack health insurance coverage, according to a report
released Thursday.

"The uninsured are less likely to have a usual source of care outside of emergency rooms," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer health care group that released the report. "They often go without screenings and preventive care."

As a result, he said, "Uninsured Americans are sicker and unfortunately die earlier than people who have health insurance
coverage."

The report, "Dying for Coverage in Nevada," estimated that 290 Nevadans, ages 25 to 64, died in 2006 because they did not have health insurance. From 2000-2006, the estimate was more than 1,600.

People who lack insurance, Pollack said, often go without needed medications because they can't afford them, or don't see a doctor until their condition worsens and is harder - or too late - to treat.

"Our report highlights how our inadequate system of health coverage condemns a large number of Nevadans to an early death," Pollack said.

In a 2002 report, the Institute of Medicine estimated 18,000 adults nationwide died in 2000 because they lacked health insurance. A study by The Urban Institute put the number at 22,000 in 2006.

The Families USA findings were based on methodologies used in those previous studies that were applied to state-level data, Pollack said.

In a conference call with reporters, Rep. Shelly Berkley, D-Nev., said the findings underscore the overall "crisis" in the health care system.

"I think the report says it all," Berkley said. "Insurance is a life and death issue. When we have 47 million Americans uninsured, the results of that can be catastrophic for families."

Bob Fulkerson, executive director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said solutions will require "political will" at the state and federal level.

"First, we have to figure out why we in the United States pay more and get less for health care," he said.

One option, he said, would be to allow those who are insured to add a family member or non-family member to their coverage.

Fulkerson also suggested subsidizing small businesses so they can join an insurance pool and make coverage for their workers more
affordable.

Most small businesses want to offer health insurance to their employees, he said. "It's just that it's so expensive.

If anything, he said, the Families USA report "should be a springboard to have a really serious discussion" about health care issues.
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On the Net: Families USA: www.familiesusa.org

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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