08 September 2005

The Health Gap.

On measures of public health, the United States does an abysmal job considering the wealth of this nation.

The CIA thinks that there is a bigger gap between infant mortality in the U.S. and Malaysia, but still agrees that the Cuba does a better job of reducing infant mortality than the United States.

The problem is inequality. A UN report lays it out well.

... A baby boy from a family in the top 5% of the US income distribution will enjoy a life span 25% longer than a boy born in the bottom 5%.

... The Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 18,000 Americans die prematurely each year solely because they lack health insurance. Being born into an uninsured household increases the probability of death before age 1 by about 50%. Unequal access to healthcare has a powerful effect on health inequalities linked to race, which are only partly explained by insurance and income inequalities. One study finds that eliminating the gap in healthcare between African Americans and white Americans would save nearly 85,000 lives a year.

Our society's gains are not shared on an inclusive basis, and the fault lines still have a lot to do with the color of your skin in the United States. The health insurance gap kills as many people as a Hurricane Katrina class disaster every single year. But, because it happens quietly, we don't notice. This is a preventable problem. No one in the United States should be so worthless that their life isn't worth a health insurance premium during the years that they can't afford one.

Hat tip to tiggers thotful spot at the Booman Tribune.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quite agreed.