New San Francisco Program for Uninsured Children Begins
San Francisco yesterday began offering "nearly universal health coverage" for children through its new Healthy Kids program, the San Francisco Chronicle reports in a profile of the initiative. Modeled after a "pioneering project" in Santa Clara County, the program will serve children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/26). The program will be open to children under the age of 19 -- including illegal immigrants -- whose parents make less than 300% of the federal poverty level ($45,450 a year for a family of three) but too much to be eligible for other public health programs. Beneficiaries will pay a premium of $4 per month and will receive medical, dental and vision coverage (California Healthline, 6/1). According to the Chronicle, approximately half of the county's 10,000 uninsured children will qualify for the Healthy Kids program, while most of the remaining uninsured children are eligible for but not yet enrolled in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families. Jean Fraser, CEO of the San Francisco Health Plan, the county agency that will run the Healthy Kids program, said the program expects to enroll approximately 750 children per month "until we've enrolled all the kids we can." The county has budgeted $2 million this year for the program, which could ultimately cost as much as $6 million if all eligible children enroll, the Chronicle reports. Although "most of the money" will come from the county's general fund, $1 million in the next two years will come from cigarette taxes (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.