Current Care Kills More Than 'Army of Death Panels'

System 'takes lives and breaks apart families'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 30, 2009 8:09 AM CDT
President Barack Obama listens to a question during the Organizing for America National Health Care Forum at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Despite screeches that a government-run health care program will bump people into an early grave, "it’s a good bet that our existing dysfunctional health system knocks off far more people than an army of ‘death panels’ could, even if they did exist," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. The current system allows 18,000 “unnecessary deaths” yearly among the uninsured, a study found. That's one person every half hour.

The system also rips apart families with overwhelming medical costs, Kristof notes. He tells the story of a woman whose husband was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, which threatened a devastating “financial toll” on the family. A social worker and attorney suggested she divorce her husband, which she did, though she continues to care for him. The system “twists people like pretzels,” said the woman. A new study has found that 62% of US bankruptcies are tied to health costs.