ORANGE COUNTY: Many Uninsured, Especially Minorities
Nearly one-fifth of Orange County residents lack health insurance, according to an "exhaustive" countywide survey due for release today. The survey, which culminates a year-long effort by 17 nonprofit hospitals, 18 for-profits, the county Health Care Agency and numerous community clinics, already has groups saying the county's $30 million in tobacco settlement funds should be earmarked for health care needs, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study found that 17% of Orange County adults lack health insurance, more than half of whom are Latino or Vietnamese. Thirteen percent of children are uninsured, and among those, 57% are Latino. Twelve percent of seniors lack health insurance, and while 13% of residents are eligible for Medi-Cal, only 8% participate, according to the study. Although it contains "few surprises," the study of 5,000 adults is unlike previous undertakings in that it relied on interviews and focus groups to collect consumer information about health issues, medical care, attitudes and behavior.
Maybe This Is It
Calling the study the latest in the "broken record methodology" of actions expected to prompt change, Mary Paul of Latino Health Access said that perhaps the report will "finally push people to advocate on the part of the uninsured." Ron DiLuigi, vice president of the St. Joseph Health System, seemed to think that it would, calling the report "just the beginning." Jon Gilwee, spokesperson for the HealthCare Association of Southern California, said that hospitals would be particularly interested in programs to provide "free immunizations, clinics on preventive medicine, health screenings with low-cost or no-cost treatment and mobile clinics to underprivileged areas." As for the county's $30 million tobacco fund, health advocates predict an uphill battle with county supervisors. Supervisor Charles Smith, who said he wants to use the funds to retire bankruptcy debt, said, "Everyone will have his hand out when the tobacco money comes in" (Warren, 4/9).