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Health Plan Moves Forward
With Release of Funding Report
A groundbreaking, affordable health care plan for San Francisco taxi
drivers, first proposed by UTW, has moved a step closer to reality with
the release of a long-awaited report from the Department of Public Health
(DPH) on how to fund the plan.
The report, which was released in mid-March, examines a variety of funding
possibilities, with potential contributions from cab drivers, cab companies,
taxi medallion holders and the public. Under most of the options cab
drivers would pay $80 a month or less, plus co-payments for services.
The report contemplates coverage through the city-sponsored San Francisco
Health Plan (SFHP), whose provider network encompasses the city’s
health system and most local hospitals, including UCSF and the California
Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) facilities.
DPH and SFHP have enthusiastically endorsed the idea for the plan. In
a letter accompanying the report, DPH Director Dr. Mitchell Katz and
SFHP CEO Jean Fraser wrote, “San Francisco can create another
first-in-the-nation health coverage model by providing insurance to
our hard-working taxi drivers.”
A key question is whether plan participation should be voluntary or
mandatory. Under a mandatory plan, drivers would have to take part unless
they could show they have other health coverage.
The report estimates the total cost of the plan to be $11 million if
voluntary and $19 million if mandatory. The cost-per-participant would
be $338 for a voluntary plan and $286 if mandatory.
The study indicates a ballot measure may be necessary to secure cab
company or permit holder contributions to the plan. Without those contributions,
the costs would fall entirely on drivers and the public.
The Taxi Commission has thus far held two hearings on the plan, one
on the funding report and another on a proposed private alternative.
The private proposal from Dublin Insurance Services, Inc. contemplates
several levels of coverage, including a plan through Kaiser Permanente.
The Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to a health plan
for cab drivers in 2002, under the sponsorship of Supervisor Tom Ammiano.
The board and the mayor, or else the voters, will have the final say
on the plan.