Okay, here's a terrific example of how health care reform will help save people from illness and early death- and save us, the taxpayers, a bunch of money, too.
An article in USA Today on March 18th talking about how the vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is not being received by many girls and young women.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are linked to HPV. 70% of the cases of cervical cancer are linked to HPV types 16 and 18. Cervical cancer killed over 4,000 women in 2009, and over 11,000 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed.
So while the vaccination (there's two drugs, one called Gardisil and one called Cervarix) doesn't directly prevent cancer, it prevents girls and women from being infected with HPV, and HPV later in life can lead to cervical cancer. Make sense?
Okay, so here's where the article comes into play. The two states in the union that have the highest death rates from cervical cancer are Mississippi and Arkansas. One really big reason they have high death rates from cervical cancer, even though overall deaths from cervical cancer have been falling for years, is because these are two of the poorest states- and women don't have access to health care because they don't have insurance coverage.
If they had the coverage, they'd be getting the regular Pap smear tests which help with the early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.
What's more, in those states...
Yet in Mississippi, where the vaccine could perhaps save the greatest number of lives, only 16% of teen girls in 2008 received the shot, called Gardasil, according to Bach's paper in Saturday's The Lancet. About 22% of Arkansas girls ages 13 to 17 got the vaccine, which costs $390 for three shots.
In the wealthier state of Rhode Island, where cervical cancer mortality is half as high as in Mississippi and Arkansas, 55% of girls received Gardasil, the paper says.
With me on all this? These states with more poor people have more death because of the lack of health care access, and the young women who can now be protected from the cancer aren't getting the vaccine.
Plainly, by getting 35 million more people covered by health care insurance (which the health care reform bill is designed to do) we'll save thousands of women from cervical cancer. They'll have access to tests for early diagnosis for the women when they do get it, and the girls will have access to the (expensive) shots that protect the next generation from getting it.
So health care reform will save lives and save people from illness, plain and simple.
Oh, and money-wise? We win there, too. The reason is that treating someone with early tests and diagnosis, or vaccinating them up front so they don't get sick in the first place are FAR less expensive than when these women get sick with cancer and wind up on state healthcare bills for late-stage treatment. That saves the taxpayers a BUNCH of money.
(Of course, if we'd just let them die and deny them treatment at all, we'd save plenty of money, but thankfully we don't do that in America; if someone shows up at an ER, we treat them. We're not all Ayn Rand-worshipping monsters here.)
This is a perfect example of how health care reform WORKS. Get women access to the tests so the ones that have HPV already and who will come down with cervical cancer can get earlier, more successful, less expensive treatment; get girls vaccinated so we cut back something around 70% of the future cases of cervical cancer in the first place; save money in the meanwhile.
Win, win, win situation all around.
When those tea party protesters are out there yelling "Kill the bill", what they're really saying is "keep killing poor women and doom poor girls to cancer!"