Friday, March 14, 2008

Det. News - Lack of Health Care Deadly

Lack of health coverage is deadly in Michigan

Kimberly Hayes Taylor / The Detroit News

At least two working-age Michiganians die each day because they don't have health insurance, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, Dying for Coverage in Michigan, released by Families USA, a Washington, D.C., health advocacy group, indicates at least 650 Michiganians died in 2006 and that between 2000 and 2006, at least 4,200 Michiganians ages 25-64 died simply because they lacked health insurance.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who is pushing for health care reform, called the issue "the most critical challenge facing us today."

It's unacceptable and immoral," she said.

The uninsured die sooner because they are four times less likely to have regular care than their insured neighbors, the report says. Also, the uninsured are 30 percent less likely to have a regular checkup in the past year and are more likely to be diagnosed with a disease in an advanced stage.

"This is a wake-up call for all of us that we have got to make a commitment for universal health care coverage and access in this country," Stabenow added.

While Rob Fowler, chairman of the Lansing-based nonprofit Michigan Health Insurance Access Advisory Council, agrees the report is a call to action, he believes it's not necessarily a call for universal health care.

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