On the first anniversary of the California Uninsured Help Line in May, Phil Lebherz, founder and initial financier of the free call line looked at national studies and became convinced the uninsured numbers could be cut in half in all states if people knew about the public programs available to them. As a result, he plans to make the help line operable in all 50 states by this fall. This initiative can take the pressure off insurers, he claims, who receive much of the blame for the rising number of uninsured in the United States.INN: What is the California Uninsured Help Line? How does it work?

Lebherz: The California Uninsured Help Line (800-234-1317) is a free call-in center for Californians seeking public health care programs. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with live counselors and interpreters who speak multiple languages, and offers basic screening for both public and private low-cost health insurance. Counselors help callers identify their potential options and connect them to the correct agency and program representatives. The call center can also directly refer the caller to the appropriate state-sponsored program according to various medical conditions and then guide the caller to obtain the appropriate health coverage.

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