According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.3% of Americans and 12.2% of Pennsylvanians were without health insurance in 2010. The report, "Dying For Coverage," just released by Families USA, indicates 745 Pennsylvania residents died prematurely in the same year because they did not have proper health care coverage, with approximately 14 dying per week.
Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said people may feel discouraged to seek help when looking at their financial situations.
"Because of the way we currently provide and charge for healthcare, many millions of Americans without health coverage are denied regular access to quality care, and many of these people face an unjust sentence of a less healthy life and an earlier death," Pollack said.
According to Pollack, more often than not, uninsured Pennsylvanians end up paying more for medical care because they cannot negotiate discounts with hospitals and clinics through a healthcare provider. As a result, many people are discouraged to seek medical attention.
"They may not feel that they can afford the care that they need, and as a result, at the onset of an illness or the onset of pain, they don't go to a doctor right away, figuring maybe the pain will go away, the illness will go away, and for some people, obviously it doesn't go away and it gets worse," Pollack said.
Pollack added the Affordable Care Act, signed in March of 2010, has already helped thousands, but there is still more work to be done.
"This is not a trivial matter. It really has enormous potential consequences. It really can mean whether people get the healthcare they need or don't receive the care that they need, will they receive the care in a timely manner, and some people pay the ultimate price when they don't get that care or don't get it in a timely manner," Pollack said.
The Supreme Court is to issue a ruling within the next week on a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which may strike down or keep certain provisions, or dispose of it completely.