KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Jobless, Uninsured Seek Health Care From COBRA And Free Clinics

Many people are going without health care in the current economy, but COBRA and free clinics can provide relief.

The News Journal reports on how people who have lost their job can maintain health coverage. "Because of the battered economy, more people than ever are having to figure out how to obtain health insurance without a job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 38,000 Delawareans and 15 million Americans unemployed this summer. Last year at this time, those figures were about 21,000 and 9.4 million respectively." Many people may not know how to stay covered: "a survey this year by insurer Aetna found that 69 percent of consumers had never heard of individual health insurance and 38 percent expected individual plans to cost no more than the plan they had through their employer. Unfortunately for consumers, that isn't the case." The News Journal advises that "the first step is to find out from your former company if you qualify for COBRA" (Ratnayake, 8/11).

CBS News reports that in the current economy, children's dental care is often neglected. The Paskiewicz family "has been without dental insurance ever since [mother] Lynda lost her job at a western Wisconsin boat maker two years ago." But the kids received free dental care when the Wisconsin Dental Association "staged a mission of mercy. … Over two days, more than 1,300 people came calling. Some waiting all night, many with children." As estimated 12 million children "face serious barriers to dental care, involving either high cost or lack of dental insurance," and "a recent survey found 36 percent of Americans have cut back on regular visits because of the cost" (Bowers, 8/11).

The Los Angeles Times reports on a visit by the Remote Area Medical Foundation to Los Angeles. "One by one, about 1,500 people made their way through the Inglewood sports arena, where dozens of volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and other healthcare professionals are providing free medical services this week. Remote Area Medical Foundation is a trailer-equipped service that has staged health clinics in rural parts of the United States, Mexico and South America." It began its eight-day stint that the group's officials described as its first foray into a major urban setting. The clinic "has staged 576 medical clinics over the last 25 years. They have treated nearly 380,000 patients and provided care valued at $36.9 million, said Executive Director Karen Wilson. The group raises money through contributions" (Pool and Yoshino, 8/12).

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