10/11/2005

Daily Kos: Right to Life

One of the 45.8 million people in this country without insurance probably would have waited until the last possible moment to go to the emergency room. Untreated, this type of lymphoma can kill within 25 days of appearing. It probably would have spread beyond the lymphatic system, beyond the bone and bone marrow, into the nervous system, the brain, and who knows what other organs. Someone who put off going to the doctor until the last possible moment because they didn't know how to pay for it probably would have been too late.

There are six million more uninsured Americans than there were in 2000. The largest increase was among working adults, from 18.6 percent in 2003 to 19.0 percent in 2004, an increase of over 750,000 people in 2004.

Here's what 45 million people looks like in everyday terms (from the Center for American Progress):

45 million uninsured Americans is more than...

* All Americans age 65 and older (35.9 million)
* All African Americans (37.1 million)
* All Hispanic or Latino Americans (39.9 million)

45 million uninsured Americans is...

* 4 million more than the number of small business employees (41.0 million in 2001)
* 20 million more than the number of military veterans (25 million)
* Nearly 12 times more than the number of millionaires (3.8 million) -- although the growth in millionaires outstripped that of the uninsured (14 percent versus 3 percent)

45 million uninsured Americans is...

* More than four times the population of Greece, site of the Summer Olympics (10.6 million)
* 12 million more than the population of Canada (32.2 million)
* Nearly 5 million more than the population of Spain (40.2 million)
* 20 million more than the population of Iraq (24.7 million)

45 million uninsured Americans is...

* Nearly five times more than the number of Americans living with cancer (9.2 million in 2001)
* 2.5 times higher than the number of Americans with diabetes (18.2 million in 2002)
* 7 million more people than those living with HIV throughout the world (38 million)

There are...

* Nearly 150 uninsured Americans for each physician in America
* Nearly 7,500 uninsured Americans for each hospital in America
* Over 84,000 uninsured Americans for each Member of Congress

45 million uninsured Americans is about the same number of Americans living in...

* West coast states (45.2 million in California, Oregon and Washington)
* Middle America (44.7 million in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming)
* Northeastern states (42.0 million in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont)

A more personal anecdote on just what it means to be uninsured with cancer. A coworker's mother is also undergoing treatment for lymphoma. My coworker was in the oncology unit with her mom and overheard the nurses discussion the drug regimine for their patients. She heard one nurse tell another "Oh, he's not getting that drug--he doesn't have insurance."

And we've discovered why. One treatment of one of the miracle drugs he's receiving, Rituxan, costs as much as a small car. One of the most effective drugs for handling nausea associated with chemotherapy costs $40 a pill. Who's going to pick up the tab for these drugs for uninsured and underinsured patients? If one can't afford insurance, they sure as hell aren't going to be able to pay for these drugs on their own.

And thus we have rationing of health care. Not a systematic, formulated plan for rationing, but a cruel system based solely on economics.

Daily Kos: Right to Life

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