Dear Abby:

Your readers often express concerns about America's health-care system. However, one problem doesn't get enough attention: More than 41 million Americans are without health insurance. This includes more than 8 million children. In March, hundreds of national organizations will work together to spotlight this problem.

The uninsured pay a high price for not having health coverage. They often live with prolonged illness and skip lifesaving medical screenings. Their children do not get adequate medical care.

Please urge your readers to join me during "Cover the Uninsured Week," March 10-16. During this time, a series of national and local activities to increase discussion of the issue will be featured.

To learn more about this, to find resources to help the uninsured and discover simple ways to get involved, visit: www.CoverTheUninsured.org.

Abby, thank you for informing your readers about this unprecedented awareness campaign.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., President

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

You're welcome. I am pleased to promote your awareness campaign in the hope that concerned readers will get involved. It's a disgrace that in a country as wealthy and powerful as ours, millions of people are without access to medical care.

Dear Abby:

After reading the letters about doctors who dislike being asked medical questions in social settings, I had to write.

Anytime you include a job description such as doctor or lawyer with your name, you can expect questions regarding your profession. It happens to everyone.

Speaking as a real estate investment adviser, I can assure you that even doctors try to get free advice. The same thing happens to accountants, carpenters, painters, police personnel, nurses and just about everybody else.

It should come as a surprise to no one. It is called CONVERSATION.

Happy Talk in Winnetka, Ill.

You're right. Many people ask questions as a way of showing interest and starting conversations. It happens to advice columnists, too. Read on:

Dear Abby:

After reading about doctors getting asked for free advice, I would like to offer my father's response when asked what he did for a living.

He would say, "I follow the medical profession."

"Oh, you're a doctor?"

"No, I'm a mortician."

At that point the questioners usually changed the subject.

Ruth Strand, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Too bad. Death is the one thing we will all have in common.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2003, Universal Press Syndicate