Wonder how many people are dying because they don't have insurance? Check out Families USA's study on state-by-state numbers f0r the years 2000 to 2006.
The total is a little shy of the study by the Institute of Medicine and the Urban League, but it's chilling nevertheless.
Statistics always lag two to three years behind, especially on the state and federal level. It takes that long to compile, confirm and report them, but if you take the number for seven years and add 2007 and thus far into 2008, I believe the numbers must approach 200,000. That's more than the population of most American cities.
I’ve had people tell me that Mike didn’t have insurance because he made bad choices. They’ve said if he had done everything right as a teenager he would have had a job that offered insurance.
I have to admit, Mike made some bad choices as a teenager. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol. But he sobered up when he was 22 and spent the rest of his life “chasing drunks,” helping people get and stay sober.
He was a chef and he worked late many nights, so he often came in at the end of meetings, but everyone tells me they knew if Mike showed up it would be a good meeting. He had an insight that nobody else seemed to have, and he often chose newcomers’ meetings because he knew that’s where he was needed.
As for not having insurance, most restaurants don’t pay their employees’ health benefits. He had a talent with food, so he was able to work and make a living even while he was in school — he was an honors student in his junior year of college when he got sick.
So, did he not deserve to survive because he did stupid things before he was 22? Should stupid choices before you have the maturity to know their consequences mean you should suffer and die?
Of course, he probably would have been rejected for employer-sponsored insurance because the birth defect he had left him vulnerable to both kidney infections and cancer. He would have had to pay a fortune for private insurance.
It wasn’t about choices. It never is, unless you’re talking about the choice of big business not to take care of people and the choice of legislators not to make big business do the right thing.
Since the federal government hasn’t moved in providing healthcare to all its citizens, states are starting to make moves to do it.
The problem here is that not every American citizen gets equal care. Check out this information on what some states are doing: http://www.kff.org/uninsured/kcmu_statehealthreform.cfm
Be sure to look at the PDF to see individual states’ proposals.
Only three states have enacted anything, and 12 more are considering it. So, if you’re lucky enough to live in Massachusetts, Maine or Vermont, you can get a colonoscopy or other diagnostic test that could save your life even if you work in a restaurant and don’t have health insurance.
We are on a mission: Tell the stories of people who have died because they didn't have health insurance. Mike was one of those people, and I was fortunate enough to be his mom for 33 years.
Mike was born Nov. 3, 1974 -- my 22nd birthday. He had some medical problems that we later learned would leave him very vulnerable to colon cancer. That meant he couldn't get insurance unless he was wealthy enough to afford medical treatment on his own.
If you look at his medical records the year before he was diagnosed, the doctor wrote again and again, "patient can not afford a colonoscopy."
If he had been able to afford it, the cancer might have been discovered before it was Stage 3.
Mike died on April 1 with me by his side. He joined the more than 167,000 people who have died since 2000 because they didn't have insurance and couldn't get diagnostic tests.
We believe that's wrong, and we hope to change it.