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The naked truth about health insurance

September 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
An insurance company is out to tell "the naked truth." These statues of people in the buff are intended to make us uncomfortable: to show how vulnerable Californians can be without health insurance. The naked statues, up to a hundred of them, are likely to make some folks uncomfortable. But that's OK with the company that unveiled them. The statues are drawing attention to the issue of health care and insurance companies.The exhibit was up for only six hours, but it certainly did get a lot of attention, and that was the point. Healthcare certainly an issue for all of us, especially in an election year, and it's predicted that we're all going to see changes -- hospitals, patients, doctors -- in the next few years. Some people are saying that now is the time -- a call for action for universal coverage.

It certainly catches your eye: Nude statues, several dozen of them at Hollywood and Highland -- public art with a message.

"It was thought provoking," said passerby John Razzkowski. "I thought that naked statues without clothing caught my attention right away."

The statues feature men, women and children in various poses and was sponsored by Blue Shield of California. The exhibit is called "Uncovered" and it symbolizes Californians not covered by health insurance: 6.7 million uninsured.

"When they go into the emergency room and there's no insurance, the coverage is paid for by the hospital, paid for ultimately by all of us that pay for health insurance," said Blue Shield Chief Executive Officer Bruce Bodaken.

Blue Shield has been in trouble with the state for some of its alleged practices. The company paid a $3-million fine for illegally cancelling and dropping policyholders. Blue Shield's CEO says the company would like to see universal coverage.

"Seventy percent of Americans have coverage," said Bodaken. "And they're happy with their coverage. But we don't want to have to undo all that, so we say, start with the foundation that we've got, and then build on that."

Olympic medal-winner swimmer Janet Evans got involved when she learned 800,000 children in California are uninsured

"Children have to go to the pediatrician all the time," said Evans. "They get little colds, they get little fevers. You really need to be vigilant about their health, so we need universal health coverage, and we need it for our children."

People we spoke with agree the system needs to be changed, but they're not sure what those changes should be.

"I think everybody deserves health care, whether or not it's covered under insurance or if it's just provided by state, or by the federal government, it's hard to tell," said tourist Lisa Van De Vord. "

And the problem is getting worse. California already has the highest number of uninsured in the nation, and that number could grow by one million by the year 2010.

 

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