Do We Really Care If We Take the, 'Health' Out of, 'Healthcare?'

Last week Congress pushed through a bill to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act. One of the major concerns with the new bill is that while insurers cannot outright deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, they can dramatically increase the insurance rates including putting folks with pre-existing conditions into high-risk pools. A recent report from AARP finds that rates could reach as high as $25,700 per year for folks in high-risk pools. This effectively renders folks qualifying for the high-risk pool unable to attain health insurance. 

 With healthcare access looming large in the mind of the public, issues of public health, policy, and equity must be evaluated. March for Science – Seattle advocates for robustly funded publically communicated science and evidence-based policy. We believe this mission should be applied to all aspects of human governance, including health care.  

Robust funding of medical research has created an abundance of data about health. After reviewing the body of literature, data, and evidence, this is what we have found:

To further illustrate the case, we submit two case studies that exemplify these facts.

Case Study 1: Nearly Universal Health Care and Mortality Rates

In 2006 the state of Massachusetts passed health care reform which provided access to health insurance for nearly every single Massachusetts resident. In the year following the measure, the uninsured rate dropped by half. The health insurance reform continued to serve the citizens state until the Affordable Care Act was adopted in 2016. In 2014 a study from the Annals of Internal Medicine investigated the mortality rates before and after the health care reform. The authors found that the health care reform was responsible for a substantial drop in mortality rates in all age groups in comparison to control. While all demographics benefited, the largest benefit was found in counties with high rates of poverty.  

Case Study 2: Cystic Fibrosis Survival Times in America vs. in Canada.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic condition. While we have made major advancements in the treatment and care for CF patients, they still experience shorter than average life expectancies. A study published last month compared average survival times between American CF patients and Canadian CF patients. What they found was shocking! Canadian CF patients live, on average, 10 years longer than American CF patients. While Canadian transplant regulations are different than the American system, the authors felt that the Canadian universal health care system was one major contributor to the dramatic difference in life expectancies.

As Americans, we hold these truths to be self-self-evident: that all people are created equal; that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  If we cast aside our tired, poor, and huddled masses aside to a high-risk pool, to a system where they can no longer access health care services, are we really all equal? Are we able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness?

We have evidence that access to health care and preventative care increases the survival rates of all demographics. Our policies should reflect and enact the recommendations coming from the data that our tax-payer dollars have procured. If you are concerned about the fate of America’s health care system, this is what you can do:

  • Contact your senators:  This tool will auto-draft an email to your senators which you can edit and send in only a few minutes.  
  • Sign a petition: This petition focuses on including women and requires public hearings. 
  • Attend a town hall: This website helps you find a town hall near you.
  • Tell your story: This website give people an opportunity to share your experience. 
  • Join the WA Science-Based Policy Center:  Click here for more information about March for Science - Seattle's Policy Outreach Group. 

Now is the time to get enraged and become engaged.  Civic engagement is the highest form of patriotism. Join March for Science – Seattle as we lead the way to an equitable, affordable, evidence-based public health system.

Weekly blog posts are authored by a rotating cast of MFSS Organizers, Marchers, Scientists, Science Enthusiasts, and Journalists. 

About the Author: Liz Warfield

Liz Warfield is a Mother, Biologist, Educator, and Organizer with the March for Science Seattle. Liz is passionate about evidence-based science education and advocates for equity in science classrooms.