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In 2006, twice as many people died from lack of health insurance as died from homicide. The Springfield News-Leader put a human face on that statistic in an article about how many Missourians die each year because they lack health insurance:

The crisis of the uninsured is a personal one for Angela Ricketts. Her father died at age 57 from small cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma years ago, despite early symptoms that something was wrong.

Virgil Brown had put off seeing a doctor and undergoing tests because, as a self-employed home builder in Springfield, he couldn’t afford health insurance, Ricketts said.

One week after Brown’s wife got health insurance for both of them, he sought medical treatment for his worsening symptoms. By then, Ricketts said, “The mass was so large there was nothing they could do and gave him two months to live.”

That’s one life among thousands in Missouri every year that are cut short because they don’t have health insurance, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.

Nearly 10 working-age adults in Missouri die each week because they don’t have health insurance, according to a new report by Families USA, a national organization for health care consumers. The report was released Wednesday.

Ten a week, huh? What that works out to in our state is that 2800 died unnecessarily between 2000 and 2006.

Maybe Missourians should quit bitching and be grateful they don’t live in Texas, where seven working-age people die each day due to a lack of health insurance. I thought our state was at the bottom of the heap in everything. Turns out, it could be worse.

It’s been so bad for so long that many Americans can’t–or won’t–imagine it any other way. I talked Sunday to a Republican woman whose grown daughter, Christi, works for a small firm that won’t give her health insurance. Christi needs an operation on her shoulder, and I pointed out that even if she switches jobs and gets insurance, she’ll have trouble getting that covered. Insurance companies will call her problem a pre-existing condition.

But when I suggested to Paula that not only do employees need insurance, but also that employers need to be relieved of the burden of providing insurance, I was treated to a rant about the inefficiency of all government programs and what a nightmare government health insurance would be. “I don’t care if it is my daughter who has trouble getting covered,” she told me. “I can’t condone letting the government waste all our tax money.”

I could have pointed out how successful Medicare has been and how much better Medicare would function if it could draw on the pool of younger, healthier Americans to offset the cost of treating older ones. I could have pointed out that insurance companies, because they must have profits, are far more costly than Medicare.

But mere logic would have been wasted. If Paula can’t see that insurance companies are ripping her off by taking only the healthiest applicants, then she’d have to find her daughter’s very life threatened before she’d relent. And since Christi is my niece, I can’t wish for that.

All I can wish for is that enough of us have seen the light about how awful the health care crisis is that we can overrule people like my sister, who are too thoroughly propagandized to see their own best interests.

Thank you to those who are expending tireless effort in that quest. MOSP (Missourians for Single Payer) is sponsoring several events this weekend. The highlight of the weekend will be a speech Sunday morning, April 20th, at 11:00 by Donna Smith, who was featured in Sicko.

Or maybe Smith isn’t the highlight. You can read the schedule and decide for yourself what looks the most interesting:

Schedule of key events for Health Care Weekend are as follows:

Thursday, April 17, 11 a.m. to Noon, KWMU’s ” St. Louis on the Air” will feature Donna and Larry Smith, a couple highlighted in the 2007 documentary, SiCKO. She is the main speaker for Health Care Weekend.

Saturday, April 19, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. A street theater group will march in protest of deaths directly related to the nation’s broken health care system.

At 7:30 p.m. the Smiths will introduce a free public showing of SiCKO in the auditorium of the Ethical Society, 9001 Clayton Blvd. in Ladue.

Sunday, April 20, 11 a.m., Donna Smith, will give the Annual Platform Lecture on Health Care, also at the society.