September 5, 2008
Provocative ‘Uncovered’ Statues Spotlight the Uninsured As Olympian Janet Evans and Blue Shield of California CEO Bruce Bodaken Encourage Californians to Take Action
"Uncovered" -- an exhibit featuring dozens of statues symbolizing the millions of Californians who live without health insurance, will be unveiled today in Los Angeles. This arresting display, sponsored by Blue Shield of California, draws attention to the existence of the state's 6.7 million uninsured, and provides a grassroots platform for citizens to share their opinions with elected officials.
Former Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Janet Evans and Blue Shield CEO Bruce Bodaken will kick off the event. The statues are part of Blue Shield's grassroots "Uncovered" program, which includes public events as well as Internet and educational outreach throughout the state that help Californians share ideas and solutions to providing health coverage for everyone.
The exhibit will premiere at Hollywood & Highland in the central courtyard from 8:30-3:30 pm today with information on how people can help raise awareness of the need for universal healthcare coverage. Also onsite will be Blue Shield's "Chat Boxes," mobile videotaping studios where, over the past two years, hundreds of Californians have shared their thoughts on healthcare issues. The company also launched a website today, www.letsshieldcalifornia.com, to enable people to send emails to elected officials in support of legislation to make health insurance coverage accessible and affordable to all Californians.
"Seeing some of these statues depicting humans in vulnerable positions might make people uncomfortable," said Bruce Bodaken, CEO, Blue Shield of California. "It should. 800,000 children in California go without health insurance. That should make us all very uncomfortable. We've been vocal proponents of universal coverage since 2002 and, while debate is healthy and encouraged, we believe Californians want action. We're helping to provide a platform for them to communicate those feelings."
Many states have pursued health coverage in recent years. Massachusetts passed universal coverage in 2006 and California attempted to do so this year. With 47 million Americans and nearly 7 million Californians uninsured, Blue Shield of California wants to be part of the solution and a catalyst for change.
Janet Evans, a five-time Olympic medalist, is a longtime health and fitness advocate whose role as mother makes the lack of sufficient healthcare for so many children especially close to her heart.
"The lack of adequate health coverage for so many of us, even those with fairly high-paying jobs supporting young children, has been an enormous problem that continues to grow and has devastating consequences for us all," Evans said. "I'm thrilled to be a part of something that encourages Californians to be a part of the solution. Everyone deserves an opportunity to stay healthy."
California has the highest number of uninsured in the nation and, with current state budget cuts, there could be one million more by 2010. Most uninsured patients are charged significantly more than insured patients for hospital services and uninsured adults are less likely to receive preventive care and more likely to be diagnosed with a disease in its advanced stage.
"We have proposed a plan for universal coverage, as have others," Bodaken continued. "The exact details can be debated, but we all agree that the current system can and should be better. Public officials need to take action to achieve healthcare reform based on shared responsibility, affordability, and quality."
As part of its not-for-profit mission, Blue Shield has long been a leader in advocating health coverage for all Californians. In 2002, Blue Shield CEO Bruce Bodaken--who recently spoke at the Democratic National Convention 2008 Rocky Mountain Roundtable on Health, Wellness and Prevention --became the first health plan chief executive in the country to propose a specific plan for universal coverage. Since then, Blue Shield has sponsored legislation, funded policy research, and donated tens of millions of dollars annually to Blue Shield of California Foundation - $136 million since 2002 - to meet immediate community needs and to support comprehensive health reform. Blue Shield has lobbied in favor of coverage expansion at the federal and state level while working with individuals, employers, and public officials to develop collaborative, practical solutions to America's uninsured problem. The company is also dedicated to making health plan coverage easier for consumers with improvements like simpler explanations of benefits, customized online portals and instant telephone access to customer service representatives.
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan dedicated to providing Californians with access to high quality coverage at a reasonable price. Founded in 1939, it now has 3.4 million members, 4,700 employees, and one of the largest provider networks in the state. The company offers a wide range of commercial and government health plan products throughout the state. For more information about Blue Shield products and services, visit the website at www.blueshieldca.com.
Bodaken is available for interviews on Sept. 5. Please contact Melody Parrette, [email protected], 858-361-9731 to schedule.