Hundreds of Events Raise National Awareness During Covering the Uninsured Week 2003

America's uninsured op-ed campaign

Field of Work: raising awareness of the plight of the millions of Americans who lack health insurance coverage

Problem Synopsis: Millions of Americans have regular work and an income but no health benefits and not enough money to buy insurance on their own. This can lead to delays in getting medical attention, which in the case of many diseases, can lead to serious consequences, even death.

Synopsis of the Work: Cover the Uninsured Week, March 10–16, 2003, focused national media attention on the coverage problem and featured hundreds of town meetings, health fairs and other public events in communities across the nation. At the time, according to RWJF, it Week ranked as the largest public awareness campaign ever conducted on the health and economic consequences of America's uninsured population.

Key Results: Cover the Uninsured Week in 2003 generated 880 events covering all 50 states. The campaign received coverage in at least 3,000 newspaper, magazine, television and radio stories with a potential, cumulative audience of 378 million people. Media attention ranged from the "Dear Abby" advice column to major newspapers and network television programs, including NBC's "Today" and "CBS Evening News." In addition, seven network and cable television entertainment shows, including "ER" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," wove the coverage issue into their scripts.

Did it succeed in making a complex, controversial issue a higher priority among the American people? Public Opinion Strategies conducted multiple tracking surveys before and after the campaign and in a March 2003 report to RWJF wrote, "There is evidence that Cover the Uninsured Week did move numbers among the campaign's target audiences." Surveys by other entities independent of the campaign supported that conclusion.

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