County expands middle-income healthcare subsidies

During its meeting Tuesday, Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors took big steps to support low-income families.

On a unanimous vote, the Board agreed to subsidize 100% of healthcare costs for families of four making up to $105,000 per year, or individuals making up to $51,000. That coverage applies for those receiving medically necessary care at Valley Medical Center hospitals and clinics.

The effort will also subsidize costs for families with incomes up to $170,000 on a sliding scale of 25-70%.

According to county officials, approximately 100,000 Santa Clara County residents lack health insurance. This program is expected to cover at least 20,000 residents, costing approximately $3 million per year.

“Every man, woman and child in this County should get the health care they need,” said Supervisor Joe Simitian.

Numerous studies and empirical data show that access to preventative and primary care cuts long-term costs. Better primary care improves health outcomes, reducing the need for emergency or hospital care.

Serving the ‘missing middle’

Low-income families in California are eligible to receive health insurance coverage through Medi-Cal. That program is available for incomes up to just more than $17,000. More than two million residents use the program for health insurance.

Santa Clara County’s program is designed to cover the families who fit between those income brackets: the missing middle. They make too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but not enough to afford the cost of living in the West Valley and pay for health care costs.

Tuesday’s program supports the missing middle who do not otherwise qualify for health coverage at their employers, and who have medical bills exceeding 10% of their household income.

“Here in Santa Clara County, if it’s humanly possible, we’ll get you the care you need,” said Simitian.