March 14, 2003

Panel focuses on impact of uninsured

Featured Image

From left, Dr. Thomas F. Frist Jr., Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, and Larry Churchill, Ph.D. were among the panelists in a discussion during Cover the Uninsured Week activities on Tuesday. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Panel focuses on impact of uninsured

Cover The Uninsured Week’s On Campus Event, “The Moral and Economic Consequences of the Uninsured: The Challenge for Today and Tomorrow’s Healthcare Leaders,” was held Tuesday afternoon at Loews Plaza in Nashville.

The event featured a panel discussion moderated by John Seigenthaler, with presentations from Boone Powell, former CEO of Baylor Health Systems; Dr. Stephanie Bailey of the Metro Public Health Department; Dr. Larry Churchill, Ph.D., Ann Geddes Stahlman Professor of Medical Ethics; Dr. Thomas F. Frist Jr., HCA, Inc.; and closing statements by Dr. Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

Jacobson offered a starting point for improving health care in the United States, targeting the 41 million uninsured Americans, thousands of whom reside in Tennessee. “If we spend $1.4 trillion on health care annually, and if that’s $5,000-plus per capita, and if 30 percent of all health care expenses are wasted, that’s $420 billion,” he said. “If we could only take out one-half of that waste, we’d recover $210 billion.

“And if we then spend what we should be spending on everybody, about $3,522 per person, we could cover 60 million new uninsureds.”

Studies show the uninsured live sicker and die younger as a result. Uninsured women with breast cancer are twice as likely to die as insured women with breast cancer. The uninsured are four times more likely to experience an avoidable hospital stay or visit to the emergency room. And experts say medical bills remain a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, causing one out of every two personal bankruptcy filings.

Cover the Uninsured Week wrapped up this morning, with an Interfaith Prayer Breakfast bringing together representatives of all faiths for a discussion titled, “Common Covenant for Care.”

Cover the Uninsured Week is funded primarily by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a national foundation focused on building the capacity of individuals, communities, and institutions to solve their own problems; and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans. The California Endowment and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are also providing significant funds for events throughout the nation.

For more information about the national impact of Cover The Uninsured Week, log on to