Cover the Uninsured Week: April 27-May 3, 2008

KM | April 30, 2008

MedSave.com is participating in national "Cover the Uninsured Week" (April 27 - May 3) with a consumer education campaign designed to emphasize the simplest and most affordable solutions that are readily available to more than half of the 47 million people the U.S. who lack health coverage. Cover the Uninsured Week is a national event drawing upon the efforts of a number of public and private entities involved in health care. Other major national participants include Aetna, Kaiser Foundation, Robert Johnson Wood Foundation and the Magic Johnson Foundation.

Surprisingly, almost half of the nation's uninsured, about 22.5 million people, could be immediately covered if they knew about existing programs through Medicaid, state children's health insurance programs (SCHIP) and private low cost medical insurance programs like those offered by MedSave.com. Based on the premise that half of the nation's uninsured can be covered with immediately available resources, MedSave.com's efforts focus on addressing the needs of these individuals. "Lack of information is the primary reason why so many millions lack health coverage and this is intolerable" says MedSave.com service manager Kim Morris.

Public awareness and lobbying events are being held nationwide this week by other organizations to raise awareness of the need for solutions for the remaining half of Americans without health coverage who do not have readily available coverage opportunities. Those with chronic health conditions that contribute to lower lifetime economic resources are most at risk. The toughest and most costly health care problems are presumed to take the longest to address. About 80% of our nation's health care costs are related to behavioral issues including smoking, obesity, lack of stress management, lack of exercise and poor nutrition. These issues are more likely to remain a long term health care policy challenge for the United States. In the meanwhile, it makes sense to focus on the problems that can be immediately addressed.

Aetna's Plan for Your Health Foundation found that 63% of Americans are unaware of their state's programs to help the uninsured. This Aetna Foundation teamed up with the Magic Johnson Foundation to educate uninsured Americans about free or low cost health insurance. The program brochure features a photo of the basketball legend "Magic" Johnson with a quotation "Did you know you may qualify for free or low cost health insurance programs". More information is available at www.planforyourhealth.com. An estimated 11 million uninsured Americans, many of them children, qualify for free or low cost government-assisted health programs. Ongoing consumer education programs are believed to be the most effective approach to reducing the number of uninsured within this population. The inclusion of a celebrity spokesperson is a welcome addition to the efforts.

A similar finding was reached with regard to middle income Americans who lack health insurance. A new report from the National Institute of Health Care Management (NIHCM) indicates that 25% of the uninsured middle income Americans - about 12.5 million - would enroll in coverage at their own expense if they only knew that affordable insurance was available. MedSave.com promotes low cost health insurance solutions for individuals who do not qualify for government-assisted coverage or employer-provided group health insurance. This group included the temporarily unemployed, part time workers, students, recent graduates, and recent immigrants. MedSave.com stresses that while full coverage may not be available or affordable, at least some type of affordable entry-level commercial health insurance is available to almost everyone. This topic is covered in more detail "Covering the Uninsured: 2008 Update" at http://www.medsave.com /articles/Covering-the-uninsured-2008-Update.htm.

Cover the Uninsured Week efforts have shifted to emphasize the unique solutions that are available to each sub-group within the uninsured population rather than trying to address the problem as a single issue. Increasing awareness that the issues that cause a lack of insurance vary widely from one demographic sector to another is seen as a first step to reaching effective solutions. This year, for the first time, both the Aetna and the MedSave.com Cover the Uninsured Week projects are being promoted in both English and Spanish.

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