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US Needs Universal Health Care Preventing Deaths Linked To Being Uninsured

Armen Hareyan's picture

The"uninsured receive a lot less care than the insured," and"sometimes this lack of care kills them," NewYork Timescolumnist Paul Krugman writes. Krugman cites comments made by President Bushthat "people have access to health care in America" because they can"just go to an emergency room." However, Krugman writes that"visits to the emergency room are no substitute for regular care,"which can "identify and treat health problems before they get acute."He adds that "uninsured Americans often postpone medical care, even whenthey need it, because of expenses."

Although"hospitals will treat anyone who arrives in an emergency room with anacute problem -- and it's wonderful that they will -- it's also true thathospitals bill patients for emergency department treatment," and"fear of those bills often causes uninsured Americans to hesitate beforeseeking medical help, even in emergencies," according to Krugman.

Krugman writes that preventable deaths related to being uninsured "arecommon" in the U.S.but "don't happen in any other rich country -- because every otheradvanced nation has some form of universal health insurance." He adds thatthe U.S."should, too." Krugman writes that "if being a progressive meansanything, it means believing that we need universal health careTimes, so thatterrible stories like those of ... the thousands of ... Americans who die eachyear from lack of insurance become a thing of the past" (Krugman, New York, 4/11).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.