As the debate focused on the mooted creation of a of a
government-backed health insurance plan in the US rages on, a study
undertaken by Harvard University has greatly strengthened the
argument of proponents of federal involvement.
Among them is non-profit organisation Physicians for a National
Health Program (PNHP), a non-profit research and education
organisation of 17,000 physicians, medical students and health
professionals which gave the university’s study its full
“The message coming out of the Harvard study adds fuel to the fire
under the Obama administration to pass health care reforms,”
commented the PHNP.
Vividly highlighting the plight of those with no health insurance,
Harvard researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans
have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured
counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in
In their study, researchers analysed data from national surveys
carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
assessed death rates after taking education, income and many other
factors including smoking, drinking and obesity into account.
Researchers estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789
excess deaths annually.
This represents a significant increase in the previous estimate
made in 2002 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the US
In its study the IOM, which used methods similar to those employed
by Harvard researchers, estimated the lack of health insurance as
the cause of 18,000 excess deaths annually.
The Harvard researchers stressed that the PNHP puts deaths
associated with lack of health insurance as now exceeding those
caused by many common killers such as kidney disease and
According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 47 million Americans, or
20 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without
health insurance in 2008.
Adding to the problem, non-profit organisation the Henry J Kaiser
Family Foundation estimated in its Employee Health Benefits: 2009
Annual Survey that nearly 7 million Americans will lose their
health insurance coverage between 2008 and 2010.