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.
For health insurers doing business in California, this is the worst of times, politically speaking. The national movement toward health reform is coinciding with an election year in which several key California players are running for higher office, and they are all eager to put the industry in the spotlight. Combine that with rising costs (and profits), and you have a recipe for a political free-for-all. It is almost starting to feel as if health insurance is becoming the next tobacco industry — a political pariah for whom polite people simply wouldn’t work.