San Mateo County Weighs Plan for Universal Coverage
A San Mateo County task force on Tuesday approved a $165 million preliminary proposal to provide health care coverage to 36,000 to 44,000 uninsured county adults, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The plan by Blue Ribbon Task Force on Adult Health Care Coverage Expansion would require contributions from individuals, private health care providers, employers and taxpayers.
County adults with incomes that do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level are eligible for health care coverage through the program.
Individuals participating in the program will be asked to contribute up to $100 monthly, depending on income.
The program will emphasize preventive and primary care to reduce emergency department visits. The program also will incorporate consumer protection processes and coordinate care among different health care providers for adults with chronic and complex medical conditions.
The Health Plan of San Mateo will serve as third-party administrator of the program.
Other details will be finalized this summer.
The county estimates that it can save $48 million through coordination with other low-income health programs and can apply $41.5 million that it already receives for mandatory indigent care. However, the funding source for the remaining $75.5 million is unknown.
The Board of Supervisors on July 24 will vote on whether to proceed with the plan. Pending the board's approval, enrollment for a pilot phase of the plan could begin as early as September. A finalized plan in November could be voted on by the supervisors.
The program will explore selling health insurance to uninsured adults or businesses through the Health Plan of San Mateo.
The task force over the next few months will consider options for employer participation in the plan. The task force also will explore raising the business license fee, a sales tax, or leveraging tax income generated from the county's health care districts (Gordon, Oakland Tribune, 6/13).