Everyone knows the statistic:  47 Million Americans have no health insurance.  It’s been in all the papers since 2006 when we hit that number of uninsured.  It amounts to this: about one in seven people in our country have no access to health care outside emergency rooms.  People who don’t have health insurance face insurmountable debt, and they don’t just avoid preventive and routine care, they avoid necessary care as well.  Over 20,000 Americans die prematurely every year because they lacked health coverage and delayed lifesaving care, or were cut off from access to lifesaving medications.  

In 2002 the Institute of Medicine released Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late, the second installment in a six-part series on the consequences of the lack of health coverage.  In 2002, they estimated that 18,000 people died prematurely because they did not have access to health care services.  In 2006, The Urban Institute revised that number upward to 22,000.

Let’s put that number in perspective.  That is death on a scale of a September 11, 2001 every six weeks.  

We are so determined to keep that from happening even one more time that we now take off our shoes at the airport and parents can’t take a toddlers sippy cup aboard a plane; so we are obviously put off, as a culture, by unnecessary death…yet we don’t demand our elected leaders do anything about this tragedy.  

Pity, that.  Especially since, unlike with terrorism,  whim, vagary and plain dumb luck  have little to do with the successes we could have if we tackled health care access…

Families USA has done the Yoeman’s work and set up an insanely useful and informative website, Dying for Coverage, that not only gives an overall picture of what the tragedy of the uninsured means to the nation as a whole, but also allows visitors to the site get state-by-state information, too.  

In Missouri, 15.9% of our 3.14 million citizens – roughly half a million of our friends and neighbors – are without health care access.  It is estimated that every week ten Missourians die prematurely because they lacked health insurance.  So many working-age Missourians die prematurely because they lack access to health care, the numbers are on parity with a 9/11-type event in Missouri every year.  

Make no mistake folks.  Health care is going to be THE BATTLE, because if the republicans don’t stop the Democrats from delivering on health care, they are all but assured permanent minority status.  They don’t give a damn about what is best for the country or her citizens – they care about power.  And they will fight like hell to hang on to every scrap they can salvage.  

You better get your head around the ferocity of the coming battle and gird for it now.  Bookmarking the Dying for Coverage site is a pretty good piece of protective gear.