Over the past decade, San Diego hospitals have managed an alarming trend. The cost of health care for uninsured patients rapidly spiraled out of control in the wake of the economic recession.

Reporter Keegan Kyle has now sifted through mountains of raw data and found that the problem is compounding rapidly.

In 2007, the number of uninsured patients receiving care in San Diego began to skyrocket as unemployment numbers increased and patients lost coverage. When compared to figures from 10 years ago, there are now more than five times as many people visiting hospitals without insurance.

This line of inquiry makes for some startling images. We prepared a series of graphics to help illuminate the severity of this escalating crisis. Plotted over time, it quickly becomes clear that the $4 billion in unpaid bills at county hospitals has become a crippling burden for our health care network.

Our Scott Lewis put a face on the issue recently when he discovered a single patient at Scripps Mercy Hospital who racked up more than $1.8 million dollars in treatment, and due to laws guaranteeing service, will continue to receive treatment indefinitely. The story became a San Diego Explained segment and generated a nice stream of comments from readers about the state of healthcare across the county and the nation.

What to Do This Weekend

After a day of dissecting health care policy, a little distraction from the woes of modern society is probably just what the doctor ordered. Reporter Kelly Bennett reminds us of the finer things in life with a half dozen events that will be happening around town — and across the border — this weekend.

For this report, which covers everything from the upcoming Tijuana Art Walk to the San Diego Record Show, Bennett teamed up with culture reporter and man-about-town Derrik Chinn for a rap session on KPBS’s Midday Edition with Maureen Cavanaugh.

Not technically a weekend event, but essential for anybody interested in San Diego culture, VOSD is sponsoring a rooftop edition of A Meeting of the Minds on Wednesday. A group of notable arts personalities will be discussing their current cultural obsessions. And there will be beverages.

An Open Letter from Carl DeMaio’s Partner

In the wake of a poor reception at last weekend’s Pride Parade, mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio’s partner Johnathan Hale published an open letter to the LGBT community at San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

“It’s just a shame that the boos and hisses in this year’s Parade didn’t come from homophobes, but came from some within our own community,” wrote Hale.

Hale recounts the day’s events — which he says were mostly positive — and speaks out about his initial reservations in attending the parade. He also chastises the community for behavior he saw as the “antithesis of what Pride is all about.”

• Service members received permission from the Pentagon to wear their uniforms for the first time during the parade, sparking outcry from conservative politicians. Now, the Los Angeles Times reports that organizers of the parade are accusing two U.S. congressman of attempting to “bully the Pentagon into moving backwards” on the issue of gays serving openly in the military.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and U.S. Rep Randy Forbes (R-Va.) criticized the military’s decision to allow serviceman to wear their uniforms in the parade, which they believe is a “partisan” event. Nearly 50 uniformed military personnel walked in the parade accompanied by dozens of supporters.

Veterans PTSD Center in Old Town Gets the Green Light

The Aspire Center, a 40-bed veterans treatment facility, was overwhelmingly approved by the San Diego City Council, according to the U-T.

The proposal for a $30 million treatment center raised eyebrows when it was announced that the facility would be located across the street from a charter elementary school, the Old Town Academy. The SD Reader reported that parents and administrators at the school began a petition in opposition to the project earlier this year. The AP reports that the school and the Department of Veteran Affairs have reached an agreement regarding security concerns.

A Little Times Square for San Diego

NBC 7 San Diego reports that a group of promoters is hoping to turn a section of the historic downtown into a glitzy entertainment mecca in the spirit of New York City’s Times Square.

The proposal calls for major changes to the city’s sign ordinance, which will allow for the big screens used by advertising companies in New York. The promoters will get their first chance to pitch the City Council at next week’s Land Use & Housing Committee meeting.

It remains to be seen whether the plan will be popular with San Diego residents, but the Naked Cowboy already has his outfit ready for this harsh winter climate.

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at colin.weatherby@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @CCWeatherby.

Colin Weatherby

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at colin.weatherby@gmail.com and follow him on...

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