Healthy San Francisco: snapshot of universal care


Jack Snook expresses his appreciation for Healthy San Francisco in a panel discussion last night. Photo by Kamal Menghrajani / KQED

It’s been almost five years since San Francisco launched its innovative, universal health plan — Healthy San Francisco — and last night a panel of public health experts and care providers gathered at the Tenderloin’s Glide Foundation to provide a snapshot of how the program is faring.

Glide has a long history of providing services to the poor and marginalized — and advocating on their behalf. Glide’s Freedom Hall was packed, with a smattering of people who indicated they were participants in Healthy San Francisco. Tangerine Brigham, director of the program, spoke first and described the program’s goals: to provide improved access to care through a network of community clinics and hospitals. Of primary importance is for people to have a relationship with a doctor or clinic so they don’t resort to the emergency room for what are essentially primary care problems.

Since its inception in 2007, Healthy San Francisco has enrolled 80 percent of San Francisco’s uninsured — about 55,000 adults. And people are using the primary care benefits. “Over 70 percent of the people in Healthy SF are getting a primary care visit at least once a year,” Brigham said. “Because they’re using primary care, we saw a reduction in emergency room utilization at San Francisco General Hospital. We compared that to other public hospitals in California and what that analysis showed was that San Francisco emergency utilization was declining while others’ was rising.”

The panel unfortunately ended before any discussion of cost of the program could be addressed. The San Francisco Public Press — one of the sponsors of last night’s event — featured an in-depth special report last November.


See also: the event announcement

Tangerine Brigham (center), director of Healthy San Francisco, said the city has a unique commitment to provide extensive care for its residents. Left to right: William Dow, professor of public health at UC Berkeley; Barbara Grady, reporter for the San Francisco Public Press; Brigham; Cathleen Allen, patient; Karen Hill, Glide. (Not pictured: Abbie Yant, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital). Photo by Steve Rhodes / SF Public Press

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