Four years ago, the City of San Francisco launched an ambitious attempt at health care coverage for all. Today, the San Francisco Public Press devotes its winter edition to an analysis of how well “Healthy San Francisco” is working. While tens of thousands of previously uninsured people have enrolled, and now have health care access they did not have before, the costs have been daunting.
In the Public Press report Stephen Shortell, Dean of the UC-Berkeley School of Public Health appropriately summarized the problem, “Healthy San Francisco is a model for health care delivery, but not for payment.”
“The program is very, very important, but I think we should recognize that it does not pay for the care of the population.”
Healthy SF is not insurance. Instead, it is access to community clinics and other safety net providers, but only those in San Francisco. Participants are not covered if they visit providers outside San Francisco. It is largely uninsured adults, people who earn too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal, who have signed up. In a state where more than 20 percent of people lack health insurance, only three percent of San Franciscans now are without health care. The Public Press reports that many people who had not seen a doctor in years are now receiving treatment.