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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

May 11th, 2013 12:09 AM

Thousands Dead in 2013 U.S. Health System Failure

U.S. Health System 2013 Death Count

Beginning tonight, I want to create the U.S. health care death toll count for all to see and read.  These are the dead due to lack of access -- either no insurance coverage or no money or both.  I've tried to get others to do this, but I have to own it because I cannot stop seeing and feeling the numbers.  Somehow, I have to believe that if we all begin acknowledging just how large the numbers are and seeing those numbers rise every day -- the march of the insistent dead -- we might just find it harder to take our attention off the reality.  Our health care system is more than a mess.  Our health care system kills.  123 people every day. 45,000 every year.

Since January 1, 2013, that's 130 days into 2013.  That's makes the death count -- the preventable-health-care-system-caused casualty count -- 15,990 people dead in America so far in 2013.

Dead to date, 2013: 15,990

I often remember watching the nightly news when I was young during which the death counts from the Vietnam war were prominently featured.  Every night it was indelibly imprinted in my psyche that war kills people -- soldiers and civilians alike.  I learned to want peace so much more from that reflection every evening.  

Would seeing the numbers every night make people want to create a sane and secure health care system for all in America?  It's hard to say for sure.  But maybe somewhere out there is some young girl who would see the health care casualty count and find in unacceptable -- and want health care for all enough to fight for it. Maybe a critical mass of people will come to the same conclusion I have -- that an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life system would have solved this.   Maybe there might be many, many more Americans who would find it revolting to know and not have it be right at the top of every news cast on every station and be on the front page of every printed publication and website.  Maybe.  

But one thing I know for certain is that I cannot ignore it.  I live in a nation that has found it acceptable to barter human life for money (to borrow a phrase from a woman warrior, Geri Jenkins, R.N.), and I live in a nation that has found it acceptable to ignore this crisis for decades.  If we have somehow become immune to single health care horror stories in our midst, have we also become numb to 123 dead per day?  That's a bit harder to deny, isn't it?  Some will say that the Affordable Care Act will reduce these numbers, and perhaps there will be some decline in the deaths.  But because so much of access to health care has to do with relying on profit-grabbing entities (insurance companies, for-profit providers, etc), until we stop allowing profit off the misery of sick and injured people we are unlikely to see the numbers of dead drop an awful lot.  And is it really OK to wait while we see what the next several years brings when a real solution is available?

Next, I will also count the financial suffering -- the bankruptcies and the lost homes mounting up.  For those who want to know just how much economic damage we've sustained due to our health system dysfunction, these numbers are staggering too.  At some point soon, the unsustainable level of human and economic trauma will overtake the ability to deny it.  Then we'll either have to determine once and for all that we can change this system to one that values health care as a human right and a public good or we can acknowledge that we have lost the will to give a damn about much else aside from protecting the right to be greedy.

 

Check out my daily blog at: http://donnasicko.blogspot.com/

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