When the U.S healthcare system kills

Luke Dalessandro, Politics Editor

In 2014, Rawstory reported that  22 year old Shalynne Vilela injured her knee playing on a Nintendo Wii with her brother and, what she didn’t know at the time, busting her ACL. During a trip to Las Vegas with her boyfriend in June, she went to Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center emergency room, but she didn’t have insurance, so when she was asked for her insurance by the intake staff, she was told that if she left, obtained insurance, and came back, it would be much less of a strain on her financially. This happened despite what she described as “8-out-of 10” pain. Vilela left the hospital, and on June 28, 2015, she suffered a pulmonary embolism, the worst possible result of a clump of clotted blood lodged in the lungs, and died. She had applied for Medicaid after what happened in Vegas, and the paperwork arrived that same week.

Vilela is not the only person who has suffered from the for-profit structure of the U.S healthcare system. Based on a 2012 FamiliesU.S.A study, from 2005 to 2010, more than 130,000 Americans died due to lack of health insurance. Specifically, uninsured adults are at minimum twenty-five more likely to die prematurely than adults who have private insurance. The specific number of people who die yearly as a result of lack of insurance is murky, but the majority of studies suggest that anywhere from 20,000 to 45,000 Americans die annually due to lack of insurance.

Medical bankruptcies have also been a problem for people in the American healthcare system. Potentially as many as 643,000 people file for medical bankruptcy annually, a number that is zero in almost every other modern nation in the world. The U.S. stands alone with only Mexico and Israel as the only modern nations in the industrial world that do not provide universal healthcare as a guaranteed commodity to its people. Despite medical bills being the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S, in 2014 National Health Expenditure grew 5.3%, sending it up to $3 trillion total. This amounts to 17.5% of GDP. In fact, despite not having a single payer system, which is heavily criticized for its high costs, the U.S spends more than any other nation on healthcare, spending more than the average given by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and well more than Switzerland, which comes in second place.

Despite the issues many uninsured Americans run into, uninsured rates are historically low in 2016. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, in the second quarter of 2016 uninsured rates are at eleven percent, the same record low reached in the first quarter of 2016. Thlow-income income households have been affected the most by declining uninsured rates, in the fourth quarter of 2013 roughly thirty-one percent of these individuals were uninsured. Comparatively that number has dropped to twenty percent in the second quarter of 2016.

The detriments of the U.S health system are reflected in polls taken on the topic. A poll taken by Gallup in May 2016 suggests this, as fifty-eight percent of people polled said they support replacing the Affordable Care Act with a federally funded single payer healthcare system. Only thirty-seven percent said they opposed this. In the same poll fifty-one percent of people said they supported repealing the Affordable Care Act, comparatively only forty-five percent said they favored keeping it in place.

May 2016 Gallup polling showing a majority of Americans support a single payer healthcare system

Overall most polls suggest the majority of people in the U.S are not satisfied with health care law. The Real Clear Politics Average  of recent credible polls on healthcare show only 39.2% of people are satisfied with current healthcare law, while 48.8% oppose it.