According to a study released by the Harvard Medical School, 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year as a result of not having health insurance. Researchers emphasize that "that figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001."
The 1.46 million working-age veterans that did not have health insurance last year all experienced reduced access to care as a consequence, leading to "six preventable deaths a day."
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. [...]
Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the report 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."
The study's authors warn that the health care legislation "would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013" and would "leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run when reform kicks in," leaving many veterans still without care.
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