SAN DIEGO: Program Subsidizes Employer, Employee Premiums
Funded through a $1.2 million grant from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation and administered by Sharp Health Plan, a new program in San Diego is seeking to reduce the barriers that employees of small businesses face in obtaining health coverage. The program, dubbed FOCUS for Financially Obtainable Coverage for Uninsured San Diegans, will subsidize care for employees of companies with 50 or fewer workers. Administrators hope to cover 1,000 to 1,500 workers whose incomes range from 100% to 300% of the federal poverty level -- between $24,000 and $49,000 for a family of four (Rose, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/24). The problems facing this population are especially pronounced in San Diego, as 98% of businesses in the region employ 100 or fewer workers and nearly 30% of residents are uninsured -- 80% of whom are employed but do not earn enough to purchase their own coverage (Sharp release, 4/22). FOCUS will reduce employer contributions to between $24 and $49 monthly, and employee contributions for a family of four will run between $21 and $165, depending on income (Union-Tribune, 4/24). Kathlyn Mead, CEO of Sharp, said, "Unlike previous attempts around the nation to measure the impacts of health insurance, FOCUS is heavily subsidized for both the employee and employer, making it affordable and a realistic option for working people and families that traditionally cannot afford health insurance." Through a $250,000 grant from the California HealthCare Foundation, FOCUS will also study the effects of health insurance on employee absenteeism, retention, morale and perceived health status (release, 4/22).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.