Friday, May 8, 2009

Unemployment and Health Insurance

I'm the poster child for the issue of health insurance and the unemployed. Having left my job in May of 2007, I paid $530 a month for my health insurance through my employer, until it expired in November of 2008, eighteen months after my departure from my job. I'll turn fifty this year, and have had not had sustained employment since then.

Because of a variety of pre-existing conditions, including congenital Hydrocephalus, but including "ordinary" maladies of midlife like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I was turned down by Kaiser Permanente, and presented with premiums by Blue Cross Blue Shield that were unaffordable in the absence of a job. We're talking in the realm of over a thousand dollars a month in addition to deductibles and co-pays.

I am fortunate to be able to enroll in San Francisco's innovative health-care access program, Healthy San Francisco. Initiated in 2007, I am able to have regular physical exams, receive treatment for my high cholesterol and monitoring of my blood pressure. This means that Lyon Martin Health Services will receive payment for their services, and I will receive care for things that often land folks in the emergency room with life threatening illness. If my shunt fails, the hospital will be paid for the surgery required to return me to health.

As more and more of us lose our jobs in this declining economy, other cities and states could create similar programs. Those of us who are not children, or elderly, or who still have to many resources to qualify for other programs, this sort of program is the answer to those who can't get health insurance.

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