State officials are trying to raise awareness for the plight of the uninsured this week.
There are a million residents without health insurance in Michigan. Officials say 75 percent of those without health insurance are employed. Monday is the first day of "Cover the Uninsured" week across the country.
Sparrow Hospital says 22 percent of admitted patients are uninsured, indigent or covered by Medicare. In 2001 it cost the hospital $26 million, and Sparrow expects that figure to rise 10 percent for 2002. It's a cost the hospital says is covered by those with insurance.
State legislators say this is a problem that needs to be dealt with. They say it's a drain in the economy because benefits are so expensive for employers.
Sen. Virg Bernero says the federal government needs to find a solution, but the state is doing everything it can to help out. One of the state's top priorities is covering children. Nearly 162,000 children in Michigan go without insurance, even when eligible.
Officials say educating the public on what resources are available to them is also a priority.
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Cover the Uninsured Week
- Cover the Uninsured is a weeklong series of national and local activities. The activities are an effort to sensitize the public and opinion leaders to the plight of more than 41 million Americans who lack health insurance.
- The goals of Cover the Uninsured Week are to:
- Raise public awareness of the plight of more than 41 million uninsured Americans.
- Demonstrate broad support for action on the issue.
- Generate significant media attention to the issue, both nationally and in key communities across the country.
- Encourage other national organizations to join The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and 18 partner organizations in an effort to increase attention to the issue.
- Create a single rallying point for groups and individuals working to extend health care coverage to the uninsured.
- Cover the Uninsured Week is sponsored by three health foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as well as a diverse array of national organizations.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- The Business Roundtable
- Service Employees International Union
- Healthcare Leadership Council
- American Medical Association
- American Nurses Association
- Health Insurance Association of America
- Families USA
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
- American Hospital Association
- Federation of American Hospitals
- Catholic Health Association of the United States
- United Way of America
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and national partner organizations have already sponsored important events, meetings and campaigns to help raise awareness of the problem of the uninsured. Some of these activities include:
- Health Coverage 2000 – Held in Washington, D.C. in January 2000, Health Coverage 2000 was a national conference in which eight original partner organizations presented specific proposals for decreasing the number of uninsured Americans.
- Regional conferences – Between November 2000 and January 2001, seven meetings were held across the country in which local representatives from national organizations shared the stage with uninsured residents and federal, state and local officials to discuss proposals for extending health care coverage to the uninsured.
- Satellite town hall meetings – During March 2001, meetings were held at more than 300 hospital sites across the United States. A moderated debate among members of Congress was downlinked to each location, and discussions took place at each site.
- Covering the Uninsured advertising campaign – A national advertising campaign designed to raise the issue of the uninsured in the consciousness of America’s opinion leaders was launched in February 2002 and is ongoing.
Source: http://covertheuninsuredweek.org/ (The Cover the Uninsured Web site) contributed to this report.