Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

The Uninsured in a Booming Economy

In California, a person can easily work 40 hours a week and still not be covered by health insurance. In fact, the employed are the fastest growing group of uninsured in California, according to the Center for Health and Public Policy Studies at U.C.-Berkeley.

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has teamed up with the Healthy Community-Healthy Economy Initiative of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network to explore the ethical dimensions of the problem. This fall, the Ethics Center will release a report addressing the question, Should California, with its booming economy, ignore the health care needs of its working citizens?

The report, which urges the governor and the state legislature to create a coherent health policy to address the working uninsured, grew out of a June forum on the subject. Its aim, said forum coordinator Melan Jaich, was "to develop a new ethical framework for action among politicians, health care providers, insurers, employers, and workers." In the forum, all parties were encouraged to suspend‹at least for one day‹their prepared or rehearsed positions as they discovered common ground with others.

Margaret McLean, director of health care ethics for the Markkula Ethics Center, said the forum report can be used to develop concrete recommendations for new legislation and policies.

Lifeguard Foundation, Permanente Medical Group, the County of San Mateo, O'Connor Hospital, and Catholic Healthcare West supplied underwriting for planning the event.