Monday, April 28, 2008

Cover the Uninsured Week Kicks Off

Last winter, a slip and fall on the ice landed me in the emergency room with a simple distal radius fracture, commonly known as a broken wrist. Straight across the bone, no muss no fuss, they shoved it back together right in the emergency room, set without surgery. (here's a tip - ask to be knocked out before they do that. Trust me.) Put in a big splint for a week, followed by a cast for three weeks, followed by a brace and physical therapy to regain full movement once it started healing.

Grand total for this very common and uncomplicated procedure? Closing in on $3000; the notices are still rolling in over four months later. All I can say is, thank God I had insurance. I consider myself very, very fortunate - it wasn't so long ago that I did not, and a bill like this would have devastated me.

April 27th - May 3rd is Cover the Uninsured Week. Events are being held across the state, beginning today with a big one at Cobo.

Businesses, hospitals, labor and government will participate in the sixth-annual Cover the Uninsured Week that starts Monday at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., a free breakfast along with free or low-cost health screenings for diabetes, heart disease and other medical problems will be offered. In addition, onsite enrollment into government health programs will be provided.

At 10 a.m. speakers will address problems associated with the uninsured, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Nancy Schlichting, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Crain's points out a scary fact that hospitals that care for the uninsured are seeing an explosion of emergency room visits, and the cost has forced one to lay off personnel.

Already feeling the effect are hospitals experiencing increasing numbers of uninsured in their emergency rooms.

For example, Henry Ford’s uncompensated care, which includes charity care and bad debt, has increased 30 percent in the last six months. Earlier this month, St. John Health in Warren announced it would lay off 300 employees, primarily because of a 25 percent increase in uncompensated care.

According to the Detroit News, over 70 vendors will be at Cobo to offer screenings and assistance with health care issues. The News also covers the effort by churches in the Detroit area that are helping with the ballot drive to amend our constitution for guaranteed coverage - and they claim that it is almost one third of the way there for signatures required.

The Warren-based church was among 200 Protestant and Catholic churches across the state that worked to collect 20,000 signatures for the Health Care for Michigan campaign, which began in January and needs 375,000 signatures by July 7 to appear on the November ballot. The effort has garnered 110,000 signatures.

Here is a complete list of Michigan events courtesy of the Cover the Uninsured Week web site.

47 million Americans are without health insurance - a fiscal and moral crisis that must be addressed soon, as you know. Until then, take advantage of the screenings and information that is out there.