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Report: More than 500 people in Alabama died in 2010 because they lacked health insurance

Staff Report

A new report estimates that more than 500 people died prematurely in Alabama during 2010, about 10 a week, because they lacked health insurance and access to preventive and primary care.

“Dying for Coverage,” a new report issued this week by the nonprofit Families USA, said 26,100 people in the United States between the ages of 25 and 64 died early in 2010 for lack of health coverage, including 512 in Alabama.

The report was immediately criticized by Gary Palmer, president of the Alabama Policy Institute, as being out of date and based on inaccurate assumptions.

“There’s little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States,” he said.

Palmer also said that the study’s estimate of 50 million uninsured Americans is exaggerated.

“It almost certainly included 12 million illegal aliens who are not insured, almost 2 million adults that are in self-funded group plans or wealthy enough to self insure, and it has been consistent over the last few years that between 5 and 6 million children are in families that can afford health insurance or that are eligible for Medicaid and are not enrolled,” he said.

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The Families USA report also advocates for the continuance of the Affordable Care Act.

It based its estimates on methodology developed by the Institute of Medicine to state-level population and mortality data, used in a 2002 report, “Care without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late.”

A key to that 2002 report Palmer said, is an even older study by the American Medical Association, that indicated people without insurance in 1993 were 25 percent more likely to die early than their peers with coverage.

The new report estimates Florida and Georgia were among the five states with the most premature deaths due to being uninsured in 2010, with 2,272 and 1,161 deaths respectfully. Mississippi had 470 deaths.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said many people without health insurance could not afford high prices, lost jobs or were denied coverage because of pre-existing health conditions.

“The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress to address an American tragedy and an American shame,” Pollack said in a statement.

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether or not the Affordable Care Act passes the test of constitutionality is expected this month.

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Pollack said that if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Americans will rise dramatically. Nearly 50 million people in the U.S. are uninsured, according to U.S. Census data.

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The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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