Policy ForumMedicine

The Bioterrorist Threat and Access to Health Care

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Science  31 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5573, pp. 1613
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072921

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The U.S. government has dramatically increased expenditures in preparation for potential bioterror attacks, but one security risk should receive much more attention than it has. The more than 40 million Americans without health insurance would pose a serious national security threat in the event of a bioterror attack with a transmissible agent. Even if all Americans cannot obtain full health insurance, significant barriers to seeking evaluation for suspected infectious illnesses should be reduced. Any threats of deportation or financial loss due to testing for and reporting infectious illnesses should be removed, and the cost for these evaluations should be borne by the government as a necessary national security expense.