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Launch of the Cover America Tour

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Consumer Reports Health Launches Cover America Tour
To Highlight the Problems Americans Have With Healthcare Coverage
RV Road Tour Begins May 28 & Will Travel Across the U.S. This Summer

YONKERS, NY – Consumer Reports Health is hitting the road this summer on the Cover America Tour to listen to Americans talk about their experiences with our nation’s healthcare system. The tour was launched today from the New York headquarters of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports Health, and will travel across the country by RV over the next four months.
As the Cover America Tour travels from coast to coast, its crew will post videos of people talking about the challenges they’ve experienced with health coverage and will blog with updates about what they’re hearing at www.CoverAmericaTour.org. The web site enables users to submit their own stories and to find out how they can join with thousands of others across the U.S. to support healthcare reform.
“There’s plenty of evidence that our healthcare system is broken,” said Meg Bohne, Campaign Organizer for Consumers Union. “But it’s important to remember that there are real lives and families behind all the statistics and data that point to the need for reform. The Cover America Tour aims to put a face on the problems Americans are experiencing and to make sure their voices are heard as the debate over healthcare reform heats up.”
Consumers Union has already collected thousands of stories from people all over the U.S. and the tour will be visiting with many of them to learn more about their experiences with the healthcare system. During the tour, Consumers Union will be teaming up with community leaders and activists in states all over the country to organize public events where people can share their own experiences and call for change. A map showing the tour route and schedule of events is available at www.CoverAmericaTour.org. The web site already features a number of videotaped stories, including:

  • Carol (Sacramento, CA), a cancer survivor who has had difficulty getting coverage because of her previous illness.
  • Rachel (Liberty Hill, TX), a small business person who has had a tough time affording insurance for her family
  • Tom (Hutchinson, MN), who delayed much needed hip surgery for three years until he qualified for Medicare because he couldn’t afford the $10,000 out-of-pocket medical expenses for the operation under his private policy.
  • Bill (Austin, TX), who was charged for emergency room care even though the hospital was in his insurer’s network because the doctor who treated him was not.

With health-care costs rising, Americans are feeling anxious about their ability to pay their medical bills. A 2007 Consumer Reports survey found that 65 percent of Americans fear losing their job-related health coverage and 68 percent worry about being bankrupted by medical bills following a serious illness or accident. Thirty-five percent of those responding to the survey said they skipped or postponed medical care to control expenses over the previous year.
Even Americans with insurance are feeling vulnerable because many have inadequate coverage. Consumers Reports found that 24 percent of Americans with insurance have coverage that barely covers their medical needs and leaves them unprepared for major medical expenses. An estimated 47 million Americans are uninsured and have even more limited access to care.
“No family should go broke trying to pay for healthcare,” said Bohne. “Unfortunately, our research makes clear that many Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills and are just one major illness away from bankruptcy.”
The Cover America Tour also will focus attention on the experiences of Americans who have been harmed by poor quality care. Approximately two-million Americans pick up infections during treatment and nearly 100,000 of those patients die according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that 98,000 Americans are killed each year by other preventable medical errors.
“Far too many Americans end up getting sicker when they go to the hospital because of preventable infections and other medical errors,” said Bohne. “Unsafe care causes needless suffering and death and adds billions of dollars to our nation’s healthcare bill every year.”
ConsumerReportsHealth.org is an informative web site published by Consumers Union that provides a rich array of research and recommendations about healthcare and healthy living. The web site aims to answer pressing health questions – from which diet plan is rated best to cost-effective alternatives to different prescription drugs – and to provide advice about making better healthcare decisions.
Michael McCauley – 415-902-9537 (cell)
Meg Bohne – 516-528-9293 (cell)