You'd think they wouldn't need to do a study to reach this conclusion but a report in the Journal of Public Health concludes that if you have no health insurance your likelihood of dying goes up. In fact, it finds that in 2005, the lack of medical insurance was a contributing factor in the deaths of as many as 45,000 people.
See, it still is a crime to be poor in America. Because health insurance is tied to employment. If you're trying to make it here - holding down a job but not on the public dole - but it's a low paying job with no benefits - you are - frankly - dispensable.
There's no other way to describe it. If you're one of those who worried about death panels if we get national health care - open your eyes. The death panels are already here. Maybe not officially, but the results are the same.
Decisions are made on a daily basis on whether or not you get health care. Or how much. Or the quality. If you have health insurance and it's covered - you get the care the doctors think you should. If you don't - you get minimal care.
For those of us who don't find anything wrong with this (and those who don't are fortunate enough to have health insurance) let me suggest that - unless you are wealthy or have a premium plan - you are subjected to some of the same decision making when you go to the hospital as well. Because someone who is not your doctor and who has not examined you is making life and death decisions about what care you get. I know this from personal experience. My father was discharged from the hospital and prescribed a life sustaining medication with three refills. The pharmacy filled it as it was approved by his health insurance. But when we returned for the first refill the pharmacist said the refills hadn't been approved. The doctor called this practicing medicine without a license. I agree. He went through medical school. He examined my father. He prescribed the medication. What right does some health insurance bureaucrat have to say - in essence and based on costs - that the treatment was wrong?
My doctor says the problem with this debate is that if we reform the system then everyone will be relegated to a more mediocre form of health care. That everyone will be covered. But that the coverage will just be basic.
But if there are minimum standards and those standards are high - then everyone will at least be assured that they won't be automatically sentenced to death for lack of medical care. In England, for example, people can also purchase supplemental health insurance if they're not satisfied with the basic program.
I'm not saying that the plans before us now are the right ones. And I don't like how both sides in this debate, including the president of the United States. But my concern is that if health reform doesn't pass now - then we'll be stuck with the same old system and that no one will want to tackle the issue again for decades. Which means that my end of life decisions - and yours - may be made by a faceless bureaucrat someday. Call it that, or call it a death panel, It's essentially the same thing.