More than six Floridians die every day because they don't have health insurance, according to an estimate released Wednesday by the national advocacy group Families USA.
People without insurance die sooner because they go without preventive care, don't fill the prescriptions they need, and put off visits not just to the doctor but even to the emergency room, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.
"Our inadequate system of health coverage condemns many Floridians to an early death," Pollack said Wednesday.
About 3.8-million Floridians, and 47-million Americans, have no health insurance.
Families USA applied statistical methods used by two other large studies, done by the Institute of Medicine and the Urban Institute, to estimate deaths related to lack of insurance. Those two studies looked at national deaths; Families USA is applying them to each state.
About 2,400 Floridians between the ages of 25 and 64 died in 2006 because they lacked insurance, Families USA said.
"Twice as many people in this same age category died from a lack of health insurance as died from homicide," Pollack said.
Pollack said he just learned about one case involving a woman who had a heart attack years ago. She couldn't pay the bill and had to declare bankruptcy.
"Next time, she didn't go to the emergency room," Pollack said, and she died from a second heart attack.
Other studies have shown that uninsured adults are less likely to get checkups and more likely to be diagnosed later with a disease.
U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor of Tampa and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston participated in a conference call sponsored by the group Wednesday. Reform is needed to make health care more available, they said.
"Lack of access to affordable health insurance has life-or-death consequences," Castor said.
Lisa Greene can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3322.