Thousands of SF residents eligible for health coverage currently not enrolling

Going without health care coverage is over — if The City’s uninsured want it that way.

But for a variety of reasons, as many as 70,000 people apparently don’t seek the coverage.

There are as many as 166,000 people in San Francisco eligible for subsidized health care coverage via either Medi-Cal or insurance purchased from the Covered California marketplace, according to the Department of Public Health. As of Feb. 1, the most recent date for which data are available, 66,678 San Franciscans had signed up for either Covered California or Medi-Cal, according to the DPH.

Health care officials hope to enroll as many as 93,000 people in coverage by the end of March, when the Covered California open enrollment period ends.

At the beginning of the year, there were 84,700 eligible people without health insurance in San Francisco, about 10 percent of the population, according to the DPH.

After Covered California enrollment ends, up to 53,000 people will remain uninsured — almost half of whom are eligible for health insurance but won’t enroll, the DPH says.

People don’t take advantage of available health insurance for a “host of reasons,” said Kim Oka, DPH’s deputy director of managed care.

“They don’t feel they need it until they get sick; they’re transient,” she said. “We’re encouraging people to enroll for whatever they’re eligible for.”

Medi-Cal coverage is available for anyone making less than $28,725 a year, or $48,825 for a family of three.

Anyone making $45,960 or less — or $78,120 for a family of three — can buy subsidized Covered California health care plans, while anyone making more can buy health care without a subsidy.

For those who can’t get health care coverage, Healthy San Francisco will still be available, although the DPH encourages people who are eligible to switch to do so.

There are 43,285 people currently enrolled in Healthy San Francisco, The City’s landmark public-health care option. That includes San Francisco residents eligible for insurance purchased via Covered California, as available plans are still too costly for some.

Initially, Covered California-eligible Healthy San Francisco residents were to be removed from the program this year. However, they’ll be allowed to remain enrolled through at least the end of the year, while the DPH figures out affordable options for coverage.

The department is currently enrolling County Jail inmates in Medi-Cal, and health officials will also be at City College of San Francisco on March 22 to enroll eligible people for coverage.

By then, health officials will be able to say how well the Affordable Care Act is working for The City, Oka said.

“I can’t really say if we’re doing good or if we’re happy [now],” she said. “We’ll know … after this last-minute push to get people in.”

Without health care

Not everyone who is eligible for health care under the Affordable Care Act will take advantage.

Up to 166,000 San Franciscans are eligible for subsidized health care, including 84,700 uninsured people between the ages of 18 and 64.

Up to 27,300 San Franciscans eligible for care won’t enroll.

About 53,000 are expected to be without insurance even under Affordable Care Act.

Source: Department of Public Health

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