What Being Uninsured Means

A new study shows the human toll:

A study published online estimates nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance. That figure is about two and a half times higher than an estimate from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002... The Harvard-based researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.

Lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper, who worked at Harvard Medical School when the study was done and who now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School, said, "The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health. We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease -- but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications."