by Dana Kennedy, Policy Intern
Each week in 2010, five Coloradans between the ages of 25 and 64 died due to their lack of health care coverage. That’s 23 people a month or 280 a year. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, 1,652 Coloradans died because they did not have health insurance. Families USA published these results in a report this month. Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured highlights the severity of this issue in Colorado and across the nation. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has an important role in reducing this staggering number of unnecessary deaths. Without it, uninsured Americans can’t get health care when they need it most; they will continue to die unnecessarily.
We need Obamacare in this country and in Colorado. We need it because in 2010, almost 50 million Americans lacked health insurance for the entire year. We need it because insurance companies can turn away individuals with pre-existing conditions. We need it because uninsured populations are less likely than their insured counterparts to have a regular source of medical care and see a provider for preventive care or screening. When they do seek care, the uninsured are often sicker and are more likely to die prematurely. They often are stuck paying much more for the care they do receive because they can’t pay the lower fees negotiated between providers and insurance companies.
We need Obamacare because it is already working. Since 2010, millions of Americans have had greater access to preventive care. Children can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and young adults can remain on their parents insurance until they turn 26.
While its future remains uncertain for a few more days, one thing is clear: Obamacare has already helped millions of previously uninsured and vulnerable populations. We can’t thank Obamacare enough for all it will (hopefully) do in providing affordable, accessible and quality health care for all Americans.