We, the undersigned medical students, are deeply concerned with the major difficulties facing the estimated 150,000 to 250,000 persons in Orange County who are without any health insurance, private or otherwise--76% of whom are either workers or their dependents.
We find it disturbing that in a county with a median income of $43,000 per year, local expenditures for health care are so poor that the county ranks 56th out of 58 California counties in per-capita health care dollars spent from local funds. This deficit is compounded by the fact that Orange County is devoid of a public hospital, and has one of the most restrictive indigent medical services programs in the state.
As medical students, many of us have experienced firsthand the frustrations and disappointments faced by the uninsured and those who treat the uninsured--given the inability to provide needed treatment and diagnostic procedures due to lack of resources or recompensation. With the high cost of living in Orange County (median home costs of nearly $238,000), many physicians have abandoned the underfunded Medi-Cal system entirely, leaving only 7% of the members of the Orange County Medical Assn. who actually care for patients covered by Medi-Cal.
Orange County's uninsured are made up of a very diverse group--from the homeless to full-time workers to students. We strongly believe that efforts must be made now to find solutions to this complex and distressing problem before more of our neighbors must suffer the consequences of restriction from needed medical care.
We also strongly urge our Orange County neighbors to press their local, state and federal leaders to hammer out new policy to face this growing problem.
JERRY M. FISH
Editor's Note: This letter was signed by 141 other students at UCI's College of Medicine.