SOURCE: Foundation for Health Coverage Education

April 15, 2008 13:11 ET

With Pink Slips Increasing, Uninsured Help Line Founder Questions Government's Efforts to Provide Easy Access to Public Programs

Cover the Uninsured Week April 27-May 2

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - April 15, 2008) - With studies showing that nearly one-third of the country's 47 million uninsured are eligible for government sponsored health programs but not signed up, the founder of the nonprofit the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE), is questioning the efforts of state and federal government agencies to inform people of available "gap coverage" programs.

"Last month, 80,000 employees were laid off in the U.S. Many of these folks may need these services, so federal and state agencies need to examine how to better make citizens aware of what programs are available to get them through this rough period," said Phil Lebherz, executive director.

Against a backdrop of the much-lauded national "Cover the Uninsured" campaign, set to run April 27-May 2, Lebherz points to a variety of factors that keep people from getting enrolled. "Currently, people have to make multiple trips to busy public health insurance offices which can be difficult for anyone. This process can be streamlined by greater use of online applications and faxing of documents," said Lebherz. "There is also limited information on what is available. In California, for example, there are 11 different programs offered, but local agencies typically only hand out materials about Medi-Cal and Healthy Families."

For the past 3 years, Lebherz' nonprofit foundation has been providing educational tools and showing anyone in 5 simple steps whether they qualify for government-sponsored health coverage. The organization provides:

--  Free U.S. Uninsured Help Line (1-800-234-1317) - providing live, one-
    on-one assistance 24/7 with information specialists who speak multiple
    languages, providing screening for both public and private health coverage,
    and helping callers identify their options.
--  Health Care Options Matrix - outlining public health coverage options
    for each state, including type of coverage, financial eligibility, and
    monthly costs. These all-in-one charts are also useful for front-line
    workers helping the uninsured find coverage, such as social workers or
    health care professionals.
--  5-Question Eligibility Quiz - online tool at
    which identifies for visitors what they may be eligible for and provides a
    profile of all public and private coverage options in their state.

For more information, log on to or call the help line at 1-800-234-1317.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Marilyn Haese
    Email Contact
    Bobbi Rubinstein
    (310) 556-9612