Recent Studies Show Harmful Impact of Lack of Insurance
Two recent studies found "uninsured people suffer significantly worse outcomes from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer than those who have coverage," providing the "most comprehensive evidence yet that a lack of health insurance is seriously harmful to a patient's health," according to a New York Times editorial.
According to the editorial, a Harvard Medical School study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that "uninsured near-elderly people got sicker at a faster rate than comparable people with insurance" and that those "disparities were sharply reduced when people turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare." In addition, the study found that participants who "previously had insurance reported no significant change in their health as they transitioned to Medicare, but those with little or no prior coverage reported a substantial slowing of the decline of their health," the editorial states.
Meanwhile, a recent American Cancer Society study found "substantial evidence that lack of adequate health insurance coverage was associated with less access to care and poorer outcomes for cancer patients," as the "uninsured were less likely to receive recommended cancer screening tests and more likely to have their cancers diagnosed at a later stage, when they are less curable," according to the editorial. In addition, the study found that they "had lower survival rates than those with private insurance for several cancers for which there are screening tests and effective treatments, including breast and colorectal cancer," the editorial states.
The editorial concludes, "The two studies leave little doubt that health improves when people gain insurance coverage. That coverage should be available to all Americans" (New York Times, 1/3).