Santorum: No one has ever died because they didn't have health insurance

Back in December, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum stirred up trouble when he declared that nobody has ever died because they did not have health insurance. Backed by research and personal stories, this is widely considered false.

"The answer is not what can we do to prevent deaths because of a lack of health insurance," Santorum stated while speaking to a group of about 100 students at a small Iowa Christian college. "I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance."

At the event, Santorum was asked to brief the audience with his stance on healthcare and the Christian responsibility for caring for the poor. According to an ABC News report, one student said he didn't think God appreciated that we have 50,000 to 100,000 uninsured Americans dying annually because they lack health insurance.

How did our healthcare-based social media following respond to Santorum's statement?

"Obviously people die because of lack of healthcare," commented Jonathan Pearce, CPA, on the Healthcare Finance News LinkedIn group. "Politicians, journalists and others outside of the healthcare professions (and often some inside of the profession) tend to get terms mixed up when reporting on healthcare issues, so I'd look at the essence of his comment rather than the exact way that he expressed it or how it was reported."

LinkedIn user Gregory Dennis questioned how after these remarks, Santorum can still be considered a serious candidate. "As usual, Mr. Santorum's perceptions are laughably weird," he stated.

Fellow Healthcare IT News blogger Keith Boone, aka @motorcycle_guy on Twitter, relayed the same sentiment. "I find it hard to believe anyone with a functional brain would ever say 'Nobody has died because they didn't have healthcare,'" he tweeted.

Albert Santalo, president and CEO of CareCloud, said Santorum rejecting studies that show uninsured Americans are at a higher risk of mortality also comes off as an "underhanded jab" at universal healthcare coverage.

"His statement depicts two discrepancies," professed Santalo in an interview with Healthcare IT News. "Healthcare is not only a basic right according to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but studies suggest lack of health insurance contributes to nearly 50,000 yearly deaths nationwide."

49.9 million Americans were uninsured as of September. According to Santalo, the topic moves from questioning the universality of healthcare to how we can make it happen.

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