I left my heart (medicine) in San Francisco

  • by: |
  • 09/14/2007
What? No "drugs from Canada" as the great panacea? How times change. Attention members of Congress who are still beating the dead horse of foreign drug importation ...

Healthy San Francisco
is a new program that offers free or subsidized health care to all 82,000 San Francisco adults without insurance. It is financed mostly by the city which, according to the New York Times, “is gambling that it can provide universal and sensibly managed care to the uninsured for about the amount being spent on their treatment now, often in emergency rooms.”

The Times reports that “Healthy San Francisco provides uninsured San Franciscans with access to 14 city health clinics and 8 affiliated community clinics, with an emphasis on prevention and managing chronic disease. It is, however, not the same as insurance because it does not cover residents once they leave the city.”

Until November, enrollment will be limited to those living below the federal poverty line ($10,210 for a single person; $20,650 for a family of four). Then it will open to any resident who has been uninsured for at least 90 days, regardless of income or immigration status.

The coverage is not portable and city officials believe that people with private insurance will have little incentive to drop their policies to take advantage of the city’s cut-rate services.

Patients are asked to contribute nominal amounts through membership fees and co-payments that vary by income. Those from families with incomes below the federal poverty line pay nothing. Those who earn more pay quarterly fees that range from $60 to $675, which is the rate for those with incomes above 500 percent of the poverty level ($51,050 for a single; $103,250 for a family of four). That is where the subsidy ends. The co-payments range from $10 to $20 for a clinic visit and from $200 to $350 for an inpatient stay.

A final financing mechanism has placed the program in legal jeopardy. To make sure the new safety net does not encourage businesses to drop their private insurance, the city in January will begin requiring employers with more than 20 workers to contribute a set amount to health care. The Healthy San Francisco program is one of several possible destinations for that money, with others being private insurance or health savings accounts.

The full New York Times story can be found here:


Little cable cars riding half-way to the stars not included.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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