Healthy SF eligibility extended for US citizens

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano

San Francisco residents who lack health insurance and cannot afford the coverage available via Covered California won’t be dropped from The City’s landmark public-health care option this year as originally planned.

Instead, they’ll be allowed to remain in the Healthy San Francisco program through at least the end of 2014, giving the Department of Public Health time to figure out how to offer them some form of insurance.

Confusion and mixed messages have gripped the country’s health care system since the Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — went into effect Jan. 1.

And San Francisco, a special case with its Healthcare Security Ordinance extending care to undocumented immigrants as well as those who can’t afford health insurance on the open market, is no exception.

At its peak, as many as 60,000 uninsured San Franciscans were seeing doctors at community clinics or at San Francisco General Hospital under Healthy SF, which offered an easier and cheaper way to access existing public-health services.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans are required to carry some kind of health insurance. If they do not, they pay an annual penalty. Healthy SF is not considered to be insurance. Late last year, DPH staffers began informing some of the 13,449 American citizens enrolled in Healthy SF that they were no longer eligible under the Affordable Care Act.

Enrollees were told to sign up for Medi-Cal or purchase insurance on the Covered California marketplace. Healthy SF was only for undocumented immigrants, DPH staffers told the public.

As many as 12,838 Healthy SF participants were scheduled to be dropped from the program this year, according to records. That included American citizens deemed ineligible for Healthy SF who could not afford private insurance.

Confusion ensued at The City’s clinics, which irked Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who authored the Healthcare Security Ordinance while a member of the Board of Supervisors.

Such enrollment instructions “should not be happening,” Ammiano told The San Francisco Examiner, adding that such messaging “undermines” the program.

But DPH Director Barbara Garcia said Healthy SF’s eligibility requirements never changed. The law as originally written excludes people who are eligible for some kind of insurance, she told The San Francisco Examiner.

DPH had been preparing to “disenroll” Healthy SF participants who were eligible for other coverage as early as last May, records show, but mixed messages reached the public.

“There is inconsistency at the enrollment sites in how 2014 HSF renewals are being handled,” Kim Oka, the deputy director of managed care, told Garcia in a Dec. 10 memo.

A self-employed San Francisco resident, who is a citizen but could not afford Covered California insurance, said she was allowed to stay in the program.

“At no time did they say that people eligible for Covered California weren’t eligible for HSF,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Public health officials say they will continue steering the public away from Healthy SF and towards available insurance options.Affordable Care ActBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsHealthcare Security OrdinanceHealthy San FranciscoPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police officers speak with people while responding to a call outside a market on Leavenworth Street in the Tenderloin on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SFPD makes the case for more officers, citing Walgreens video

Most of us have seen the video. It shows a man filling… Continue reading

A 14-Mission Muni bus heads down Mission Street near Yerba Buena Gardens. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency

The streets of San Francisco became real-time laboratories for The City’s public… Continue reading

NO CONNECTION TO SERVER:
Unable to connect to GPS server ‘blackpress.newsengin.com’
Debate reignites over San Francisco’s first public bank

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Courtesy Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed spoke at the reopening of the San Francisco Public Library main branch on April 20. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
SF reopening more libraries through the summer

After a handful of San Francisco public libraries reopened last month for… Continue reading

Most Read