New Study Confirms Deadly Risks of Lack of Health Insurance

Sept. 17, 2009

New Study Confirms Deadly Risks of Lack of Health Insurance
Up to 45,000 Excess Deaths Estimated Among the Uninsured

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new study released today in the American Journal of Public Health confirms the deadly risks associated with lack of health insurance in the United States. It more than doubles the standard estimate of the toll of uninsurance, made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002.

 In its report, “Care Without Coverage. Too Little, Too Late,” the IOM estimated 18,000 deaths in 2001 associated with lack of health insurance among Americans aged 18 to 64. This was based on an earlier study showing that the uninsured were 25 percent more likely to die than those with insurance.

 The new study uses a similar methodology to update these estimates. It finds that the uninsured are actually 40 percent more likely to die than the insured. Applying this finding to census data from 2005, the new study estimates 35,327 to 44,789 excess deaths associated with uninsurance among Americans aged 18-64 that year. The authors adjusted for a variety of differences between the uninsured and insured such as age, gender, smoking, drinking, obesity and exercise.

“Lack of health insurance is not simply a matter of mounting bills or deferred care,” said Peter Lurie, deputy director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen.  “It is potentially a matter of life and death.  The study makes a compelling case for providing health insurance coverage to all.”

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