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Report: Lack of Health Insurance is Deadly for Pennsylvanians

April 7, 2008

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania loses two people every day because they didn't have health insurance, according to a new report from Families USA. Report author Ron Pollack says it adds up to more than 700 working-age Pennsylvanians dying each year because they don't have regular access to healthcare beyond hospital emergency rooms. He says nationwide, more than 22,000 die young.

"Those lacking coverage often go without screenings and preventive care. They often delay or forgo needed medical care. Uninsured Americans are sicker, and they are more likely to die earlier."

The Pennsylvania House recently passed the "Access to Basic Care" system to provide health insurance coverage to more working families, and supporters of the plan say this new report lends a sense of urgency to the need for healthcare reform. Critics of expanding state-based insurance are concerned it will undermine the private market, because people will opt for lower-cost, state coverage instead.

Pollack argues most families want to buy health insurance, but the current system doesn't guarantee access to policies that are affordable and include sufficient coverage for their healthcare needs.

"Our inadequate system of health coverage condemns a great number to an early death, simply because they don't have the same access to healthcare as their insured neighbors."

The full report can be viewed online, at www.familiesusa.org.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - PA