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17,000 Child Deaths Linked to Lack of Insurance
Date:10/29/2009

Kids without coverage are more apt to die while hospitalized, study finds,,,,

THURSDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- An estimated 17,000 children in the United States might have died unnecessarily over nearly two decades because they didn't have health insurance, according to a report from researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

They found that kids who lacked health insurance were 60 percent more likely to die in the hospital than were kids who had insurance. After adjusting for such differences as race and gender, uninsured kids were still 37.8 percent more likely to die than kids with insurance coverage.

David C. Chang, co-director of the pediatric surgery outcomes research group at Hopkins and a study co-author, said he could not think of a medical treatment that has such a dramatic impact on health outcomes as health insurance seemingly does.

"This is actually something we as a society ... can choose to do something about," he said. "It's literally with the stroke of somebody's pen, this could be changed."

The article was published online Oct. 30 in the Journal of Public Health.

Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a bipartisan child and family advocacy group, noted that data from the U.S. Institute of Medicine have shown that people who are uninsured have a higher mortality rate.

"You knew that it existed, you knew that there were cases [of child deaths related to lack of insurance], but I think this data is pretty shocking and really points to the need for national health reform," Lesley said.

In one of his first acts after taking office in January, President Barack Obama signed legislation reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The measure also provided funding for states to add several million more children to the rolls though 2013.

"CHIP has really worked and been very important and insures about 7
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