New US study finds depriving people of health insurance increases risk of premature death

The number of US citizens dying prematurely would increase by about 29,000 each year if the health reform plan outlined by Senate Republicans were to take full effect, a new report suggested.

As lawmakers in Congress debate the merits of two GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the report concluded that adults who had health insurance were between 71 per cent and 97 per cent less likely to die imminently than those who lacked health insurance.

''Health insurance saves lives,'' the authors wrote Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The report affirmed and added to a landmark review conducted by the National Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine in 2002. Research published since then ''strengthens confidence'' in the findings of the original report, wrote Dr Steffie Woolhandler and Dr David Himmelstein, public health experts at Hunter College in New York who favour a national, single-payer health system.

According their research, adults with health insurance were in better health than their uninsured peers, had their hypertension under better control, and were less likely to suffer from depression.

The publication of the report came after the Congressional Budget Office said the Senate Republicans' draft bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would see roughly 22 million US citizens exit the health insurance rolls by 2026. The ACA repeal bill that passed in the House of Representatives would see 23 million US citizens becoming uninsured over the next decade, the CBO added.

Although the findings added weight to the evidence that health insurance reduced mortality, the authors acknowledged that several factors complicated these results, including that most evidence which came from observational and quasi-experimental analyses.

But the authors also noted that a definitive, randomised control trial may not be possible, therefore decisions had to be based on the best preponderance of evidence.