24 June 2007

Butler County to Deploy Health Plan for Uninsured Poor

Butler County hopes to launch its new program, HealthShare, by September. It's not a comprehensive plan; it's a limited plan designed to improve preventative care and reduce costly ER visits for the estimated 40,000 uninsured in Butler County.

HealthShare could provide basic health care coverage for about $75 a month — a cost that the employer and employee would split, Jolivette said. The uninsured, regardless of their past medical history, would be accepted as long as they earn less than $30,000 a year as an individual or less than $50,000 a year as a family.

However, HealthShare is not a full-benefits health insurance plan, Jolivette said. It would not cover catastrophic life events such as a baby's stay in neo-natal intensive care, a limb reattachment or an organ transplant...

Rather, the aim is to provide preventative and maintenance care at a rate the working poor can afford to reduce expensive misuse of emergency rooms... It should be an easy sell, he said, because hospitals would be saving money on patients who otherwise would have had no coverage.

This reminds of something I've heard a few times over the past couple years... that innovative ideas in government are happening at the state and local level, not the federal.

I haven't explored the Presidential candidates' health care plans (to me, it's just part of the white noise of campaign rhetoric), but I've thought for 15 years that the road to universal coverage would have to start with limited coverage like this HealthShare plan offers.

It's not really practical to cover everything all at once. But what about one free visit per year to the Dentist, Ob/Gyn, Internist, Pediatrician-- something like that? Focusing on preventive medicine would help reduce the high downstream costs that we all end up paying for one way or another. I'd rather pay less up front than more down the line.

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