Future Doctors Organize Public Forum on Covering the Uninsured

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MADISON – First-year student at UW School of Medicine and Public Health Tigran Khachatryn was a volunteer at a free local clinic when he helped treat a patient who did not have health insurance. It was a moment he won't soon forget.

"The patient had a severe infection of both legs and was told he could lose them or even die without immediate care at a hospital," he said. "The physician offered to call an ambulance, and I was astonished to see the patient pondering the decision before he called his wife. He decided to go to the hospital where one of his legs was amputated."

How to reduce these difficult situations will be the focus of a public forum called "Covering The Uninsured" noon Friday at the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave., adjacent to UW Hospital.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin will participate in a question-and-answer session along with Dr. Thomas Oliver, associate director for health policy at SMPH.

The event is organized by a number of first-year SMPH students, including Steve Kidd, who says it's time for lawmakers to do something to help the 45 million Americans who have no health insurance.

"We hope to fight the common misconception that lack of insurance is a problem for only the very poor," he says. "Almost two-thirds of uninsured families include a head of the household with a full-time job. We aim to focus our attention and efforts as medical students on acknowledging the importance of providing preventive care and on-going cost-effective disease management for all Americans."

"Implementing a system where all individuals have adequate health insurance will improve the overall health status of the nation," says Khachatryan. "People will be more inclined to go for check-ups and seek medical attention in a timely manner, preventing exaggeration of health problems. No individual should ever be in a situation where health is foregone due to inadequacies in financial resources, especially in the U.S."

Date Published: 04/30/2009

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