More than $40 million in U.S. cannot afford health care

According to a federal report released this week, more than $40 million Americans say they cannot afford health care.

“There has been important progress made in many areas of health such as increased life expectancy and decreases in deaths from leading killers such as heart disease and cancer,” Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“But this report shows that access to health care is still an issue where we need improvement.”

The report, summarized by a Reuters article, contained an analysis of data from 2005, whereas now, nearly three years later, Americans’ health circumstances may have changed. And we know from polls that health care is the No. 1 most important domestic issue to voters and presidential candidates have responded, with nearly all of them presenting detailed health plans as a part of their campaigns.

Other details from the article and report:

  • The report found about one third of all children living below the poverty level had not visited a dentist in 2005, compared with fewer than one-fifth of children from wealthier families.
  • The United States spends more on health per capita than any other country, and health spending continues to increase,” the report said.
  • “In 2005, national health care expenditures in the United States totaled $2 trillion, a 7 percent increase from 2004. Hospital spending, which accounts for 31 percent of national health expenditures, increased by 8 percent in 2005.”
  • Private insurance plans paid for 36 percent of total personal health care expenditures in 2005, while the federal government paid 34 percent, state and local governments paid 11 percent, and patients paid for 15 percent out of pocket.
  • Prescription drugs accounted for 10 percent of national health expenditure in 2005.
  • Some good news: life expectancy was up to 77.8 years for a baby born in 2004 — three years more than in 1990. “Mortality from heart disease, stroke, and cancer has continued to decline in recent years,” the report said.
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