The tragedy that occurred at the Colorado movie theater last week has obviously caused a flood of media attention. The devastating shootings have caused immeasurable pain already for victims and families. An additional strain presented itself because so many of the 58 surviving victims do not have health insurance.
Happily, it has recently been reported that at least three of the five hospitals treating the surviving victims will be waiving some or all of their medical fees. This article by Maia Szalavitz, writer for Time Healthland, raises a provocative question: why should only survivors of highly public tragedies receive affordable medicine?
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to change this, here are some facts about our nation’s uninsured as of now:
- According to a 2009 Harvard study, nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year (one every twelve minutes), largely due to the fact they do not have health insurance and cannot receive quality care.
- American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage.
- The number one cause of U.S. bankruptcy is medical catastrophe. Most of these bankruptcies involve middle-class, well-educated home owners.
- In Colorado, where the shooting incident took place, almost a third of residents are uninsured or underinsured.