Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has pledged to repeal Obamacare, says that people without health insurance don't have to worry about dying as a result.
"We don't have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don't have insurance," Romney said in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch's editorial board on Wednesday.
While it's difficult to tell how many people die each year from lack of health insurance, one study, from a health care advocacy group, puts the number at 26,000 deaths per year.
"We don't have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack,'" he added in the interview. "No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital."
Romney took a similar stance in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" in late September, when he said: "We do provide care for people who don't have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care."
Roughly 4 in 25 Americans, or nearly 49 million Americans, had no health insurance last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Repealing Obamacare would deny access to health insurance to about 30 million uninsured Americans who would have received it under health care reform.
Letting so many people go uninsured ultimately can cost both individuals and society. When people lack health insurance, their health worsens, and their health treatments become more expensive, research has found. People without health insurance also are in danger of facing massive medical bills, debt, and bankruptcy if they get sick or injured.
On top of that, society at large sometimes must pay for the uninsured through higher taxes and health care costs. The government often helps pay for unpaid emergency room bills. States and cities that run hospitals lose money when hospital bills go unpaid. And economists have found that hospitals sometimes charge higher prices for health care, and health insurance companies sometimes charge higher premiums, because the uninsured often are unable to pay for health care.
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