There are several answers to the question of how the uninsured communicate with one another. The first is that the uninsured really don’t communicate with one another much, outside of the organizations and online forums – that aren’t even dedicated to health care – described in the previous section. The second is that with one-third of the population under age 65 having gone without insurance coverage at some point in the past year, we communicate with one almost every day. Surely, everyone knows someone who at some point has gone without health insurance.
David Webster, 30, is one of them. A native Chicagoan who now works as a journalist in Colorado, Webster experienced what every uninsured person fears most. Several years ago, when he had just started a new job and was waiting for the three-month probation period to end and his health benefits to begin, he broke his arm in what he calls “a stupid accident.”
“I was just messing around with some friends, and I fell and hit it just the right way,” he said.
He is still paying off the nearly $10,000 in medical bills he incurred from the accident.
But neither Webster nor Pothoven (mentioned in the first section) ever used the Internet to find others like them, or even to search for resources.
“I just didn’t think it would help,” Webster said.
Both are avid proponents of a universal coverage plan, and each will vote Democratically in the upcoming election to make sure that every American is covered.
Considering the fact that most uninsured individuals don’t seem to communicate with one another online, one way to approach the question of how they, as a whole, communicate is to focus just on those who are active in pro-health-care organizations, such as covertheuninsured.org, which aims to procure health insurance for all children. On the Web site, covertheuninsured.org claims to sponsor the nation’s largest mobilization campaign for the uninsured with its annual “Cover the Uninsured Week.” During the 2007 effort, more than 3,300 events, such as enrollment booths, health fairs and community forums, were held in all 50 states, and nearly 200 national organizations participated. Other pro-health-insurance organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Physicians for a National Health Program, the Universal Health Care Action Network and americanhealthcarereform.org. It is difficult to say how many uninsured are involved with these organizations simply because there are so many of them, and so many uninsured. But it is clear from the amount of Web sites dedicated to health-care reform that there is a significant (and possibly growing) amount of people who are getting active in promoting health care for everyone.
There are also many “civilian” groups, for lack of a better word, that aim to be an online community for the uninsured. The extremely vast majority of these groups has fewer than 10 members, possibly because users think that joining a group of 100 or even 1,000 “civilians” is not going to do anything to change the health-care system or help these people get insured. An example is the No Health Insurance Google group, which was formed to help the uninsured find resources to help them. It has only four members.
As discussed in the second section, there are resources available to the uninsured and the underinsured, but as groups go, they do not seem to have banded together much. The majority of the online activity with regard to the uninsured seems to be geared toward news-type sites and pro-insurance organizations.