HENDERSON, Nevada — Last week, Mitt Romney justified his desire to repeal Obamacare by arguing that “we don’t have people who die because they don’t have insurance.” And so on Monday, ThinkProgress spoke with Tea Party freshman Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), a former emergency medicine doctor, at a candidate forum and asked him whether Romney’s comments jibe with his past experience. Heck took issue with Romney’s assertion that emergency room care for individuals without health insurance is a real solution. “I’ve seen people presented later in the course of their disease because they didn’t health insurance,” Heck said. At that point, “it’s certainly much more difficult for them and it’s much more costly to the system”:
KEYES: You’re a doctor. Mitt Romney took a little heat the other day for saying that there aren’t any folks in the United States who have died because they don’t have health insurance. Is that something you agree with in your experience? What have you seen personally?
HECK: I’ve seen people presented later in the course of their disease because they didn’t health insurance. So they put off getting help until they’re far along and then it’s certainly much more difficult for them and it’s much more costly to the system.
SoundCloud WidgetEdit descriptionw.soundcloud.comHeck’s two-fold point — that individuals without health insurance put off getting care, and that delayed treatment in the hospital or elsewhere ends up costing everyone more — is one of the overarching reasons why lawmakers passed Obamacare. In addition to the 45,000 Americans who die every year — one person every 12 minutes — because they don’t have insurance, 50 million Americans are unable to receive proper care because they lack coverage.
When they visit the emergency room, as Romney touted, for care that could have been prevented or better handled elsewhere, such as an asthma attack, those costs are passed on to everyone else through higher premiums.