A press release issued today by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE) noted that studies have shown that nearly 33% of the 47 million uninsured in America are eligible for government-sponsored health insurance but aren’t signed up for them. Why? The number of bureaucratic steps needed to apply for government-paid health coverage is simply overwhelming.
“In Los Angeles County, for example, it usually requires two scheduled appointments at a social services agency and the time and ability of an applicant to answer a 100-question document as a first step to getting enrolled in California’s Medi-Cal program. This arduous process in addition to possible transportation issues and literacy challenges keep thousands of people from enrolling,” said Phil Lebherz, founder and executive director of FHCE in the press release.
The solution initiated by FHCE is ambitious. They are providing access to online applications for every state in the country though a website (http://www.coverageforall.org/). According to the news release, visitors can go to the FHCE website and click on the State by State application link where they can identify government health coverage offerings for the three federal programs (Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans) in addition to each state’s individual program applications.
Website visitors can first take a simple 5-Question Eligibility Quiz or phone the U.S. Uninsured Help Line at 800-234-1317 and talk with a live counselor to learn about their health coverage options. The series of questions is used as a starting point for the Fresno, California-based call center’s staff who then guides each caller through their options and to the appropriate state-sponsored program.
It is interesting that government-sponsored programs already in place could provide healthcare to 15.5 of the 47 million uninsured, but rather than making these programs more accessible, we debate the creation of even more government-sponsored programs to solve the problem – including the idea of making us all get our healthcare coverage in this fashion through a single payer system.
Wasn’t it Einstein who said that repeating the same action over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity?
We should all applaud the work of groups like the non-profit FHCE who are trying to break the insanity cycle and make sense of the crazy patchwork of existing government programs to the effect of actually delivering promised healthcare to people in need.
Likewise, we should all take note of the failure of the current government-sponsored programs to provide promised care and be wary of repeating this action while expecting different results.