ACP-ASIM Releases Report on Health Risks Associated With a Lack of Health Insurance
November 30, 1999
Over 44 million Americans face an increased risk of reduced access to health care causing increased sickness, unnecessary hospitalization and higher risk of death.
(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine presented a study today establishing a lack of health insurance as a health risk warranting as great of a level of concern and urgency as other known hazards including smoking, alcohol abuse or not wearing a seat belt.
According to the report, an increasing number of men, women and children are unable to receive the health care they need, endangering their health and lives. The study refutes the myth that those without insurance merely face inconveniences in receiving care as it sites the cumulative evidence of over 130 well-designed studies which link the lack of health care coverage with an amplified risk of poor health.
"Uninsured Americans tend to live sicker and die earlier than insured Americans," said ACP-ASIM President Whitney Addington, MD, FACP. "We hope this report serves as a wake-up call for the American public that something has to been done to reduce the number of uninsured in this country."
According to the ACP-ASIM report, uninsured Americans experience a generally higher mortality and a specifically higher in-hospital mortality. Also, uninsured pregnant women seek prenatal care later in the pregnancy, if at all. This increases the probability that care for the newborn will occur in a neonatal intensive care unit. Failure to detect and treat hypertension increases the likelihood of hospitalization and care in the intensive care unit for stroke, myocardial infarction, or congestive heart failure. Failure to prevent these complications results in increased costs of medical care and loss of productivity.
"Uninsured Americans may be up to three times more likely than insured individuals to experience adverse health outcomes," Addington said. "They are up to four times as likely as insured patients to require both avoidable hospitalizations and emergency hospital care."
ACP-ASIM is calling on all presidential and congressional candidates to commit themselves to either creating or supporting a plan within their first year of taking office following the 2000 elections to assure that all Americans have health insurance. The College's "Decision 2000" campaign, a million-dollar effort, also involves commissioning studies, polling, advocacy advertising and hosting events to raise awareness of the health crisis faced by America's over 44 million uninsured. More information on the campaign is available at http://www.acponline.org/uninsured/.
ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 116,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America.
Jack Pope, ACP-ASIM Washington Office, 202 261-4556, firstname.lastname@example.org
Page updated: 11-04-03