Wednesday, June 21, 2006

S.F. Weighs In

The latest venture in public health care comes from the Golden Gate city.

Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled a proposal today that would make San Francisco the first city in the country to provide health care for all of its uninsured residents through a plan that covers everything from patient doctor visits and surgeries to prescription drugs.

San Francisco's estimated 82,000 uninsured residents who typically go to public clinics and hospitals for treatment would be covered under the plan, dubbed the San Francisco Health Access Program

This is not insurance, but a public access plan.

The plan differs from other proposals because it is not health insurance. Those who sign up would have access to care only in San Francisco and, despite paying monthly premiums, would not be covered by the plan if they sought treatment outside the city limits.

And the estimated cost?

The estimated $200 million-a-year price tag, or $2,400 per person, would be paid for through a combination of sources, including tax dollars, local business contributions and the payment of individual premiums

Details are sketchy, but a quick check of health insurance pricing in the bay area shows a 20 year old male in good health can obtain a plan with no deductible, no coinsurance and $25 copays for $188 per month. The plan covers everything in the HMO service area with an out of pocket limit of $2500 per person per year.

At the risk of sounding skeptical, the S.F. plan appears on the surface to have understated the cost of providing care. Details on the actual benefits are not provided but it seems as if anyone who can fog a mirror would be covered and the only out of pocket expense would be the monthly premium.

Approximately two thirds of the funding comes from taxpayers, the remaining one third from premiums. That means anyone can have this cover for about $70 per month.

If this happens, I give it 3 years before it starts to come apart at the seams.
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