18 September 2009

Health Care Access: More deaths than Murder & Drunk Driving Combined?

That's what the latest Harvard Medical School study says, placing the figure at 45,000 preventable deaths a year.

Great quote: "For any doctor ... it's completely a no-brainer that people who can't get health care are going to die more from the kinds of things that health care is supposed to prevent," Dr. Steffie Woolhander, HMS faculty member and Cambridge, MA, physician.

Most studies I have seen have put the number at half this number—still an alarming number. I'm not sure that I'm entirely convinced by this study's numbers.

But the fact is that a massive gap in America's health care system affects all of us. As we're finding with H1N1, we're not immune to disease just because most of us can go to a doctor. Untreated illnesses are catastrophic for those who die—or the 700,000 Americans a year who are bankrupted by health care costs. They are also dangerous for those of us who are immunized, treated, and healthy—for now.

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