Every day, as many as three New Yorkers die needlessly due to lack of health coverage. It’s so common that it no longer makes the headlines. In the last ten years, an estimated 20,000 New Yorkers died unnecessarily due to lack of health insurance. Over 1 million New Yorkers lack health insurance, and millions more have plans that would bankrupt them when faced with a medical emergency.
If you’re lucky enough to have a decent health plan, chances are you have been forced to cover more of the cost every year, while having to fight denials and limitations. The fees charged by private insurers have risen by over 50% in the last five years throughout the state. New Yorkers deserve better. We should not have to plan our jobs and lives around how to pay for essential healthcare.
While New York leads the country in how much we spend on healthcare, and the U.S. nationally spends more than $3 trillion on healthcare every year, our healthcare outcomes are far behind other high-income countries in nearly every category. For example, maternal mortality is actually increasing in the U.S. despite every other comparable country making significant gains in reducing deaths related to pregnancy.
Financial barriers and lack of access to care are significant drivers in these shameful health outcomes. Each year, 1/3 of patients with insurance go without prescribed medicines or fail to get the medical attention needed because of high deductibles and co-pays.
The current system relies largely on private commercial health insurance, which spends exorbitant amounts of money on CEO salaries, advertising to healthy “customers” with expensive ads, and creating huge amounts of paperwork and administration. Health insurance companies in the U.S. spend up to 20% of each dollar on administration; Medicare, by comparison, spends 2 cents of each dollar. We throw away billions on commercial health insurance unrelated to direct patient care.
Inequality is rapidly increasing, and your zip code can actually determine your life expectancy. The richest 1 percent of American men lives 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent; 10 years longer for women.
The current system is designed to make profits—which it does very well—not provide health care.