I live in San Francisco. A "socialistic" city. Very often too P.C. Too socialist at time. Good intentions, bad results.It offers a free program called Healthy San Francisco. As part of that, Healthy Kids is free. If you want to pay a little for the entire family (the amount depends on income), it offers a Healthy Families program.
As a freelance journalist, I cannot afford any health insurance program I investigated. So I signed up for Healthy San Francisco. My family of three pays $300 quarterly and $14 per month. Yes, a total of $114 per month, $1,368 per year. Co-pays are $10 per doctor visit and $5 per prescription.
It is not health insurance. It offers coverage at SF's facilities: SF General hospital and some clinics. Some private practitioners also offer services through the program. The state puts in some funding and employers who do not offer health insurance kick in some (much cheaper than buying actual coverage for employees.)
It really sucks. In many ways, it's an option that most people wouldn't like.
It takes three months to get a doctor appointment if you're not really seriously ill.
You end up at SF General along with the street people, the drug addicts and city prisoners. I was waiting for a physical therapy appointment once after I broke a finger and sat next to a guy in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs in the waiting room.
It has been hard for us to find a pediatrician that our daughter is comfortable with. We never could find a decent psychiatrist to help deal with possible ADHD issues she has. The one we found was the worst psychiatrist I have ever come into contact with.
However, it is SO astoundingly better than no insurance, which is what my family had for seven years, that it's hard to describe.
My daughter has a severe fish allergy. She ended up exposed and started an anaphylactic reaction. We gave her two Benadryl and drove her to SF General emergency room. They took her immediately. No waiting. They checked her out, and it happened that the Benadryl was sufficient to stop the reaction and keep her from going into shock.
But they spent a considerable amount of time with her, asking her about her reactions to the fish. It was dangerous, enough that it's the kind of thing she could die from. They explained that it could get worse as she gets older, and could be a more serious reaction each time she is exposed. They gave us detailed info about the kinds of fish people with allergies tend to react to. They gave us prescriptions for two EpiPens, fast auto-injection devices to deliver epinephrine to prevent anaphylactic shock -- one to keep at school and one for home.
Cost: Zero dollars.
I woke up one morning with no feeling in my left hand and no ability to make a fist. We went to SF General emergency room. They took me immediately, fearing stroke or heart attack. Immediate EKG. Turned out to be minor, but they did significant tests to make sure.
Cost: Zero dollars.
My wife and I have some very expensive prescriptions to take every month. Before Healthy SF, we were spending over $300 per month, and sometimes simply could not afford to get them. Healthy SF now covers them.
Cost: $40 per month.
I went in for a routine checkup and blood test. The blood test came back with outrageously high triglyceride levels in my blood. Essentially, fat that the body uses to store energy. Despite what I thought was a pretty damn healthy diet (no fast food, very little junk food) I have 1,115 mg/decaliter levels. 150 mg/dl is considered normal. It seems to be genetic. Heart attack city.
My doctor immediately prescribed a triglyceride-reducing medication, and I re-started my running routine to burn up the excess fat I've accumulated around my waist.
Cost: $5 per month.
Let's face it, one of us could die without this coverage.
And here's the interesting part. The SF Chronicle wrote an article pointing to studies that conclude the program SAVES San Francisco money. Emergency room visits are down because poverty-level, mostly minority families, now get regular care instead of waiting until things are dire. And yes, that includes illegal immigrants.
Of course, due to the recession, funding for the program is being cut. How's that for saving money by ending socialistic programs?
Everybody, including taxpayers, could save money with a public option for health care.