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Coleman to speak about problems of the uninsured

How can the United States tolerate a situation in which nearly 40 million of its people don’t have health insurance, and as a result are sicker and die sooner than their fellow citizens? Why do the uninsured receive worse health care, even in emergencies, than people with health insurance? And what can be done about it?

President Mary Sue Coleman will grapple with those questions Oct. 9, when she gives the seventh annual Raymond W. Waggoner Lecture on Ethics and Values in Medicine at the U-M Health System (UMHS).

Coleman is no stranger to the issue of uninsured people. For the past year, she has co-chaired a committee for the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on this subject. She also holds a professorship in biological chemistry at the Medical School in addition to her role as president.

Her talk, a compilation of three reports from the IOM’s Committee on the Consequences of Uninsurance, is titled “Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late.”

The IOM committee evaluated numerous studies about how lack of insurance affects the health and health care of Americans, and the difference that insurance could make. It concluded that people in late middle age, those with chronic illnesses, lower-income adults, and members of racial and ethnic minorities could benefit the most from increased health care coverage. It called for insurance strategies that include prevention and screening, not just “rescue” options for people who already are ill.

The lectureship is named for Dr. Raymond Waggoner, who died in 2000 at age 98. He was chair of the Department of Psychiatry for 33 years, from 1937 to 1970. A noted psychiatrist, medical administrator and government advisor who was one of the first to see mental illness as both an emotional and physical problem, Waggoner maintained an interest in medical ethics and values throughout his career. The Department of Psychiatry established the lectureship in his honor in 1995.

The talk will be preceded by a brief recognition of Waggoner’s life and career. After the talk, Coleman will take questions from the audience on topics relating to the University’s health system and Life Sciences Initiative, as well as the issues addressed in her talk and report.

The lecture is at 4 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Ford Amphitheater on the second floor of the University Hospital. For more information, contact Ruthann Bertl at (734) 647-8762 or


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