‘Universal’ care vision starts small in county

A plan that could improve health care access for tens of thousands of San Mateo County residents took its first step last week,as a pilot program serving the working poor enrolled its first member.

The pilot program, which will serve 2,100 people with complex, chronic health conditions, is considered a test run for the county’s ultimate goal — to provide affordable health care coverage to more than 40,000 adults living at or below a household income of $66,442 for a family of three.

“You only have to walk into the emergency room at San Mateo Medical Center and you’ll see the struggle of a working family in this county. It’s often middle-class people who can’t afford health care, and the numbers are increasing because employers are more and more often reducing their contributions. It’s why the county is aggressively looking for a solution to provide universal coverage,” county Supervisor Jerry Hill said.

The plan is to offer a package of medical services at an affordable price to qualified employers and employees, and the creation of low-cost adult-health coverage plan through the county-controlled Health Plan of San Mateo. While the cost of the three-year pilot program is largely covered by $21 million in federal grant money, the challenge remains in how to pay for the $165 million expanded plan.

County officials estimate that nearly $90 million in costs will be covered by coordination of other low-income health programs and through state and federal money already received for indigent health care.

The remaining costs will be the shared responsibility of individuals, employers and taxpayers. The task force recommended that enrollees pay between zero and $100 a month, based on income, for access to improved care.

The amount paid by businesses, hospitals and citizens through a possible voter-approved sales tax or business-license fee increase is yet to be determined.

tbarak@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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

SFUSD: City schools to stay closed for the rest of the year

District joins five other Bay Area districts in announcing closure

Coronavirus cases exceed 600 in SF; 9 reported dead

Mayor launches data tracker after calls for transparency

Breed changes plans for massive new Moscone West homeless shelter

City now moving more shelter residents to hotel rooms after three test positive for COVID-19

Two test positive at SF homeless shelter in South of Market

Two people staying at a homeless shelter in San Francisco’s South of… Continue reading

Testing and re-testing continues at Laguna Honda as total cases increase to 16

Last week, the total number of diagnosed coronavirus cases at Laguna Honda,… Continue reading

Most Read