Going out to dinner is really stressful for Carolyn Desimone. She has a lot of friends who work in the tech sector, and they always want to go to trendy places.
“I went out for ramen with some start-up kids and it was 30 bucks a person, it was stupid,” she says. “Everyone at the table is making twice as much as I do.”
And they’re willing to spend twice as much on food. It’s an economic dynamic she notices in the cost of therapy, too. Desimone pays $65 an hour at a community clinic to get help with her anxiety.
‘Geek whisperers’ needed now more than ever as the price of mental health services rise.
“The pool of my friends, they’re all $100, $120 per appointment,” she says. “I’d never be able to do that. I couldn’t do that and pay my rent.”
The influx of tech workers to the Bay Area has had a profound effect on the local economy: Affordable housing is nearly impossible to find. Dining out has become a competitive sport. And now, it seems the tech sector is applying upward pressure on the cost of some mental health services, too.
“One big variable is money,” says Michael Klein, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco. “The other is stress.” Continue reading
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
It’s been three years, but the Affordable Care Act is before the Supreme Court again. The constitutionality of the law was settled then. This time, the question is subsidies. Oral arguments happen Wednesday.
The case is King v. Burwell, and the heart of the matter is whether the ACA permits subsidies to be granted to people who live in the 34 states that use the federally-run marketplace, healthcare.gov.
Note well: people in California, and the 13 other states that set up their own insurance marketplaces are not affected by this case. No one is challenging the legality of the subsidies as a whole — only whether they may legally go to people who live in states using healthcare.gov. Continue reading
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The South Bay and San Francisco compete on a multitude of fronts: Which will snag the hottest tech firms, which can retain or attract the most sports teams, which will win the prize for least affordable housing…
But no matter how many prestige points San Francisco racks up, the South Bay can claim bragging rights based on at least one important metric: weight.
That’s according to WalletHub, a personal finance website that spends a lot of time compiling data on all sorts of things. (Last month they told us the Bay Area is one of the more diverse regions in the U.S.) From the site:
In light of National Nutrition Month, WalletHub analyzed 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas to identify those where weight-related problems call for heightened attention. We did so by examining 12 key metrics, among which are the percentage of adults and high school students who are obese and the percentage of people who are physically inactive.
Uzuri Pease-Greene talks with two police officers in the public housing complex in San Francisco where she lives. (Talia Herman/NPR)
By Patti Neighmond, NPR
When you ask people what impacts health you’ll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress.
But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.
“My health is deteriorating, and I know what the cause of it is, but I can’t fix it.”
People whose household income is more than $75,000 a year have very different perceptions of what affects health than those whose household income is less than $25,000. This is one key finding in a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. One third of respondents who are low income say lack of money has a harmful effect on health.
This is the case for 29-year-old Anna Beer of Spokane, Wash. She lives with her husband in the basement of her father’s house. Beer got laid off from her job as a nanny last summer. Now she is attending college in the hope that she will get a better than minimum-wage job when she graduates. Beer’s husband earns $10 an hour working at a retail store. “This is probably the most poor we’ve been,” Beer says. Continue reading
Richard Sandor, 65, of Hayfork, took the hour-long bus ride to illad River Clinic to pick up his medication for chronic pain. (Heidi de Marco/KHN).
The biggest barrier to treatment for residents of a tiny town in the mountains of Northern California isn’t insurance coverage — it’s distance.
By Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News
HAYFORK, Calif. — It’s Tuesday morning, half past eight and already hot, when the small bus pulls up to the community clinic. Most of the passengers are waiting in front — an old man with a cane, two mothers with four kids between them, packed lunches in hand.
Two more arrive. A gray-bearded man with a pirate bandana steps from the shelter of his Subaru. A sunken-cheeked woman rushes up on her bike.
“Woohoo! We have a full car!” the driver says brightly after they’ve all climbed aboard. The riders smile back, some with a hint of resignation. It’s time for the weekly trip to the clinic in Mad River, about 30 miles down a winding mountain road. The tight twists and turns are hard on the stomach, but even harder on the joints — especially if you have chronic Lyme disease, as more than a few of these riders do.
Jeff Clarke is one of them. He acquired Lyme long ago from deer ticks that dwell in the region’s sprawling forests. But today he’s going to ask about a lump that’s been growing in his left breast. It’s starting to hurt, and he’s worried. His fellow riders list their own ailments matter-of-factly: asthma, dental decay, diabetes, drug addiction, heart disease and much more. Continue reading
By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
Roberta and Curtis Campbell typically look forward to tax time. Most years, they receive a refund – a little extra cash to pay off credit card bills.
‘This is supposed to be a safety net health care, and I am getting burned left and right by having used it.’
But this year the couple got a shock: According to their tax preparer, they owe the IRS more than $6,000.
That’s the money the Campbells received from the federal government last year to make their Obamacare health coverage more affordable. Roberta, unemployed when she signed up for the plan, got a job halfway through the year and Curtis found full-time work. The couple’s total yearly income became too high to qualify for federal subsidies. Now they have to pay all the money back. Continue reading
For more than four years, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, representing 2,600 Kaiser mental health clinicians in California, has been in a small war with the health care giant.
NUHW members have gone on strikes of varying lengths three times over what it says are lengthy delays in providing care to mental health patients.
In 2011, the union filed a 34-page complaint with the California Department of Managed Health Care alleging Kaiser’s mental health services were “sorely understaffed and frequently fail to provide timely and appropriate care.” Continue reading
In California, 63,000 children and teenagers are in foster care in private homes or group homes run by the state.
A quarter of them were prescribed potent psychotropic drugs.
That sobering statistic was unearthed in a Bay Area News Group investigation last year, which analyzed a decade of state statistics. The drugs include Lithium and Depakote as well as anti-psychotics such as Haldol, Risperdal and Abilify. Continue reading
Kaiser Permanente’s medical center in Oakland. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)
A teenager with major depression and thoughts of suicide is forced to wait 24 days for an initial appointment.
A sexual assault victim, diagnosed with PTSD and major depression, sends numerous emails requesting individual psychotherapy, only to have her psychiatrist suggest she should get outside help at her own expense because no weekly appointments are available. Total time between appointments: Five months.
Following up on a survey that resulted in a $4 million fine against the HMO in 2013.
A patient deemed high-risk for domestic abuse doesn’t show up for appointments, but mental health staff do not attempt contact. The couples therapy called for in his treatment plan does not occur. Domestic violence resulting in severe injury ensues. The man then tries to make an appointment but can’t get one.
Students leaving a vaccine clinic after being vaccinated against whooping cough at a middle school in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
On Wednesday in Sacramento, a MoveOn.org member is expected to deliver a petition with 21,000 signatures calling on the state’s government to abolish the personal belief exemption.
“Focusing on the parental-choice issue risks provoking a counter-productive backlash.”
She will be holding a press conference with Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who announced a bill earlier this month to do just that. When he made the announcement, Pan repeatedly spoke of wanting to increase vaccination rates.
It sounds so good: Just wipe out the option to refuse vaccines, and vaccination rates will improve.
But is abolishing the personal belief exemption — a choice that permits parents to lawfully send their children to school unvaccinated — the best way to accomplish that goal? Continue reading