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Report: Lack of health insurance kills nearly 45,000 Americans every year

Posted On Fri, September 18, 2009

A new report posted online by Harvard Medical School on Thursday shows that a lack of health insurance can be attributed to more deaths every year than kidney disease.

According to the study, titled Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults, the lack of health insurance coverage could be tied to the death of as many as 44,789 Americans per year in the United States.

The report added that those without health insurance - which they identified as approximately 46 million Americans - had a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance - a rate that has risen significantly after standing only at 25 percent in 1993.

The increased health risk was attributed to findings that showed those with insurance were "more likely" to follow through on recommended medical screenings and appointments to treat chronic conditions and were "less likely to suffer undiagnosed chronic conditions or to receive substandard medical care" than those without coverage.

In the report's summary it suggested that, despite the "thorny" political debate surrounding the idea, health professionals' push for a universal healthcare plan ensuring coverage could have a very positive impact.

"If you extend coverage, you can save lives,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard and one of the study's authors, according to the New York Times.

"Health insurance can only make you healthier if you have access to care," she added.

After the report's posting online, its findings will be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, according to the Times.

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