Access to medical health insurance saves lives

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Imagine a hardworking 53-year-old Santa Rosa resident with chronic and disabling abdominal pain, usually cries himself to sleep. He has not responded to 3 courses of treatment for the bacteria that commonly causes stomach ulcers. He dreams of a life without constant distress. Without medical health insurance, he cannot afford the suitable testing and treatment that might allow for a cure for his nightly agony.

Lack of insurance coverage and unaffordable health care are major barriers to well-being for greater than 25,000 Sonoma County residents, who disproportionately utilize hospitals and die. As a family doctor practicing in Santa Rosa for 20 years, I actually have witnessed how insurance coverage brings stability and vitality to patients. But our fragmented employer-based system of insurance coverage leaves people vulnerable, and plenty of of them die because they can’t access health care.

Having spent greater than 1,000 hours teaching UC San Francisco-affiliated resident doctors population health, I think all of us do higher once we all do higher.

Insurance coverage saves lives. The most effective option to protect people living with diabetes and hypertension from heart attacks and strokes is to get them medical health insurance. The most effective option to increase cancer screening rates is to remove financial barriers to obtaining medical health insurance. Along with prevention, insurance allows for greater access to medications and specialist referrals.

Insurance coverage saves money. The Council of Economic Advisers reports that expanding coverage to the uninsured can be an economic stimulus without negative impacts on state budgets. California’s Office of Health Care Affordability will work to scale back costs and increase transparency inside the health care system, including developing cost targets and implementing recent investments to scale back medical health insurance premiums.

Insurance coverage narrows health inequities. Where we’re born, live, learn, work and play all have a profound effect on health. The 2021 update of the Portrait of Sonoma County showed the variety of residents without insurance declined from 15% in 2014 to six% in 2021.

Inequities in insurance coverage are driven mostly by employment status, which has long disadvantaged people of color. Increasing coverage would especially improve outcomes for those within the poorest health and for essentially the most historically disadvantaged by way of access to care.

Some could also be concerned about the associated fee of expanding insurance coverage for everybody, but an oz of prevention is price a pound of cure. Access to health, like universal access to a K-12 education, fire departments and interstate highways is indispensable for all Californians.

Our country was founded by immigrants searching for higher lives. Our melting pot prospers when we now have social cohesion: a rising tide of expanded insurance coverage lifts all boats.

Insurance coverage for all Californians is nearby. Starting May 1, the Older Adult Expansion gave full scope Medi-Cal coverage to all adults 50 years of age or older. Immigration status doesn’t matter, though all other Medi-Cal eligibility rules, including income limits, still apply. Overnight, 1000’s of patients at Santa Rosa Community Health could grow to be insured. Please direct people without insurance to certified enrollment counselors at sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Constructing on previously approved expansions, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes to expand full scope Medi-Cal coverage to income eligible, undocumented residents aged 26 through 49, starting no before Jan. 1, 2024. Please reach out to state legislators on the budget committees to assist pass these elements as a part of the 2022-23 budget, which is due by June 15. You will discover the members at assembly.ca.gov and senate.ca.gov.

Because everyone deserves life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, getting all uninsured Sonoma County residents medical health insurance is important.

Dr. Danny Toub is an associate clinical professor at UC San Francisco, a college member for the Sutter Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency and a lead clinician at Santa Rosa Community Health.

You may send letters to the editor to letters@pressdemocrat.com.

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