Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day: Over 2,200 US Veterans Died in 2008 Due to Lack of Health Insurance

Today is the day that America honors the men and women who have bravely served with courage to protect our freedoms. While most Americans are in a reflective mood as they "honor" and thank veterans for their service. Here's a little bit of reality I'm sure our veterans would appreciate some focus on:

On Veterans Day, a new study estimates four times as many US Army veterans died last year because they lacked health insurance than the total number of US soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same period. A research team at Harvard Medical School says 2,266 veterans under the age of sixty-five died in 2008 because they were uninsured. (source)
Yes, estimates show that there are approximately 2 million uninsured veterans in the United States. These are men and women, who though serving their country and labeled with the highest honor, are unable to access health care not even at VA Hospitals. Yes, it is a huge misconception that veterans automatically receive medical care at VA hospitals for the rest of their lives. In fact, they are only treated for service related injuries and or ailments they encountered while serving.

“Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people - too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School who testified before CongressU.S., and thousands die each year. It’s a disgrace.” about uninsured veterans in 2007 and carried out the analysis released today [Tuesday]. “As a result, veterans go without the care they need every day in the

Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the analysis and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, commented, “On this Veterans Day we should not only honor the nearly 500 soldiers who have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the more than 2,200 veterans who were killed by our broken health insurance system. That’s six preventable deaths a day.”

He continued: “These unnecessary deaths will continue under the legislation now before the House and Senate. Those bills would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013, and leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run. We need a solution that works for all veterans - and for all Americans - single-payer national health insurance.” (source)

 In the following video co-author of the report on veterans and health care Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of medicine at Harvard University and a primary care physician in Cambridge explains in detail the results of this report. I seriously hope that the many "patriotic" Americans who observe this day used their energy to affect change in this regard. It's bad enough that "regular" folks are dying due to being unable to access affordable health care. But it's a damn shame when the very people we choose to honor each year have to suffer the same fate.

Watch the video:

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