A new study measures the financial drain caused by the thousands of people without insurance in Missouri — and suggests lack of health insurance is a life or death matter..

An arm of the Missouri Foundation for Health uses census figures and other foundation studies to calculate that about ten uninsured working-age adults died every week in Missouri in 2006. The study says that better one-in-four working-age Missourians went without insurance in some or all of 2006 and 2007.

The foundation estimates people with insurance pay 110-dollars more a year because of the costs of treating the uninsured. And Foundation CEO James Kimmey says health insurance premiums for a family covered by employer-provided insurance are 291-dollars more–and that can produce a backlash. "The amount that workers are being required to pay in order to stay in insurance programs is increasing steadily," he says. Kimmey says some workers can no longer afford the insurance their employer offers.

The study says people without health insurance are more than four times more likely to go at least a year without seeing a doctor than someone with insurance; women are three times more likely not to have mammograms, and twice as likely not to have pap smears.

Generally, he says, people without insurance are more likely to die prematurely because they get late diagnoses of disease.

Download Bob Priddy’s story (:62 mp3)