Tens of Millions Denied Health Care Coverage

July 6, 2004

A new study on health insurance, published by "Families U.S.A." in June, shows that during the years 2002-2003 81.8 million people or 1/3 of all Americans were without health coverage for at least part of the time.

Other important facts published in the report show that:

- 2/3 of the uninsured (55 million people) were without coverage for 6 months or more; - 80% of the uninsured were workers or their dependents;

- 27 million children under age 18 were without health coverage;

- the percentage of people without health insurance is dramatically higher amongst the oppressed minority peoples (59.5% amongst Hispanics and 42.9% amongst African-Americans).

These statistics translate into the denial of vitally needed health care to tens of millions of people who face needless pain, suffering and early death.

The Families U.S.A. report discusses how, in addition to going without regular doctors and other caregivers, the uninsured go without preventive care and screenings. For example, the uninsured are three to four times less likely to be screened for breast cancer or hypertension and receive 30% fewer checkups than people with insurance. Seventy percent of those in poor health, including those with chronic conditions, forgo treatment because they are uninsured. Every year tens of thousands of people die prematurely because they lack health insurance.

What an outrage! In a country which has built up of a modern health care infrastructure and educated an army of health care professionals, nearly 1/3 of the population are denied access to needed care.

And all because the profit-motive controls our country's health care system. On the one hand, the big HMOs and insurance companies keep raising health care prices, while, at the same time, employers are cutting health insurance programs for workers and the government keeps cutting back on public health programs, including Medicaid.

The solution is to take the profit-motive out of health care and create a national health care system which guarantees everyone the right to free and comprehensive health care.