The Assembly on Monday approved legislation to toughen oversight of health insurance rate hikes but the Senate has rejected, at least for now, a measure to require state approval before companies can increase their premiums.
Quitting smoking today is the number one thing that Californians can do to improve their health. Not a moment goes by without a citizen of our country and the State of California suffering from the hazards of tobacco use. Tobacco use has far reaching ramifications that encompass not only health issues, but widespread economic issues. But many people lack access to the programs that will help them quit. We can and should give them that access.
The Republican nominee for the US Senate says she favors importation of drugs from Canada, a government-run high-risk pool for the uninsured, and more funding for community clinics to serve the poor. She would also like to see health insurance premiums tied to consumer behavior.
Anthem Blue Cross has notified 230,000 California customers that personal data they submitted to the insurance company via the Internet may have been improperly viewed by others. The data breach occurred when the firm was upgrading the software that customers use to track their online applications for insurance coverage.
It will be years before the new health insurance exchange at the heart of the federal health reform passed in March rolls out in California. But decisions being made now could shape how that exchange looks and works, the health benefits it makes available to consumers, how much Californians pay for their coverage and the roles played by the government and the private insurance industry.
The Nibbi Brothers construction company is a big supporter of San Francisco’s nearly universal health care program, even though it includes a mandate on employers to provide benefits to their workers. Bib Nibbi, the company’s president, says the law levels the playing field with companies that bid against him and win by slashing their labor costs. The city, he says, should avoid a “race to the bottom.”
Daniel Scherotter, a restaurant owner and chef, is leading the fight against Healthy San Francisco. It is not that he opposes the health care program. He simply thinks the city’s businesses, particularly restaurants, should not be required to finance universal health care.
A patient has asthma and needs medication to prevent a possible trip to the ER. The doctor prescribes it. But the state bureaucracy that runs the Medi-Cal program puts up a roadblock. After hours of follow-up, the doctor manages to navigate the system for her patient. The story illustrates why so many doctors have stopped taking Medi-Cal patients.
A San Francisco clinic that serves the poor was flooded with new patients when the city created its Healthy San Francisco program. Now the doctor who runs the clinic is preaching prevention for those patients. Third in a series on universal health care in San Francisco.
Anthem Blue Cross has been under scrutiny for its recent rate hikes. But that scrutiny should go beyond the rate hikes to their overall business practices—and the broken health system that rewards bad behavior. The company has perfected a business model based on collecting premiums from the healthy and avoiding as much as possible actually providing coverage to those who are sick.