Lack Of Health Insurance Seriously Harmful To Health

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Two recent studies found "uninsured people suffer significantly worseoutcomes from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer than thosewho have coverage," providing the "most comprehensive evidence yet thata lack of health insurance is seriously harmful to a patient's health,"according to a New York Times editorial.

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According to the editorial, a Harvard Medical School study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationfound that "uninsured near-elderly people got sicker at a faster ratethan comparable people with insurance" and that those "disparities weresharply reduced when people turned 65 and became eligible forMedicare." In addition, the study found that participants who"previously had insurance reported no significant change in theirhealth as they transitioned to Medicare, but those with little or noprior coverage reported a substantial slowing of the decline of theirhealth," the editorial states.

Meanwhile, a recent American Cancer Societystudy found "substantial evidence that lack of adequate healthinsurance coverage was associated with less access to care and pooreroutcomes for cancer patients," as the "uninsured were less likely toreceive recommended cancer screening tests and more likely to havetheir cancers diagnosed at a later stage, when they are less curable,"according to the editorial. In addition, the study found that they "hadlower survival rates than those with private insurance for severalcancers for which there are screening tests and effective treatments,including breast and colorectal cancer," the editorial states.

Theeditorial concludes, "The two studies leave little doubt that healthimproves when people gain insurance coverage. That coverage should beavailable to all Americans" (New York Times, 1/3).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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