Casualties Of The Status Quo (Updated)

New ad from Americans For Stable Quality Care

According to a study by the American Journal of Medicine, some 62% of bankruptcies in the US in 2007 occurred as a result of crushing medical expenses. In 2001, the percentage was 46.2%.

CNN estimates that for 2009, the number of bankruptcies could reach 1.5 million. Multiply that by the number of individuals directly affected– immediate household members, including children;  as well as other family who can be expected to bear some of the financial fallout and you get some idea of the total collateral damage that the medical industrial complex inflicts on Americans every minute of the day. (Life after bankruptcy includes continuing medical bills for the maladies that contributed to the bankruptcies in the first place, and finding new lodging for those who lose their homes in the process.)

Next statistical stop for many of these victims will be as members of the 45,000 Club— the number of Americans that die every year from having no medical insurance according to a recent Harvard Medical School study. A related finding: people without medical insurance have a 40 percent higher death risk than those with insurance. To which Senator Jon Kyl (Rethug-AZ) responded:

I’m not sure that it’s a fact that more and more people die because they don’t have health insurance. But because they don’t have health insurance, the care is not delivered in the best and most efficient way…

Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not talking in circles here, Kyle’s probably referring to George W. Bush‘s argument that people without health care can always go to the emergency room. Of course this ignores the fact that (a) such visits are extraordinarily expensive, with the costs absorbed by increasing health care premiums for everyone else, ranging anywhere from $900-1,400 per year; and (b) universally available preventative care would in many cases prevent such visits in the first place.

But I don’t expect that a card carrying member of the medical industrial congressional complex would ever acknowledge something as obvious and humane as that.

UPDATE: Pregnancy is a pre-existing condition. And we all know what that means…

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