- March 5 - Findings released today at the launch of Cover the
Uninsured Week indicate that an estimated 75 million people lacked
health insurance at some point during the past two years. The
study suggests that being uninsured is far more common than previously
thought, affecting roughly one in four Americans.
are shocking and show just how deeply lack of access to health
care touches all Americans," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP,
executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA),
a national sponsor of Cover the Uninsured Week, which will be
held March 10-16, 2003. "The health and economic toll of this
epidemic of the uninsured is staggering for the individual, the
family and the community."
health insurance don't get routine preventive health services,
receive too little medical care too late, are sicker and die sooner,
and receive poorer care when they are hospitalized. Also, when
seeking care, they are often sicker and therefore more expensive
to treat, and they frequently turn to the nearest hospital emergency
room, which is an expensive and inefficient way to get care.
the primary providers of care to the uninsured, such as public
hospitals, teaching hospitals, academic health centers and non-profit
community hospitals, incur heavy losses from high rates of uncompensated
care. In turn, these providers are forced to cut back on their
services to all patients or even close their facilities.
lack of access to care is one of the major causes of racial and
ethnic health disparities," said Jay Glasser, PhD, MS, president
of APHA and chair of APHA's Universal Health Care Task Force.
"Lack of health insurance is a serious financial barrier for many
minority families contributing to lower health status."
economic downturn, combined with double-digit inflation of health
care costs, make health insurance increasingly unaffordable. As
a result, the number of uninsured Americans is expected to rise.
the growing crisis of the uninsured, APHA issued 14 points on
universal health care, available at http://www.apha.org/legislative/issues/14points.htm.
Included among these points is a call for the following:
coverage for everyone in the United States with comprehensive
benefits, affordable prices and quality services;
and administration of health care through publicly accountable
mechanisms to assure maximum responsiveness to public needs, with
a major role for federal, state and local government health agencies;
in the organization, staffing, delivery and payment of care to
the needs of all populations, including those confronting geographic,
physical, cultural, language and other non-financial barriers