For some reason, I tend to get the feeling that people think of Healthy San Francisco as welfare and if you’re using it, you suck. It’s as if when they sign up for the program, then somehow they are part of the poor, downtrodden masses, and seriously not cool and hip. I don’t get this because if private health insurance is bankrupting you or won’t insure you and this system is there for you to use, then you’re really going to let some misdirected sense of pride stop you from getting health care? Right now, I want to proudly say that we at The Tender are enrolled in and use Healthy San Francisco as our only health care.

It’s a great system and it’s a model by which Universal Health Care in this country should be approached. It was something that Gavin actually did well (the fact I’m admitting that should show how highly I think of the system). Sure, there are waits when you go in to the intake centers, but if memory serves, back when I had a Cadillac policy more than a decade ago, even if I was the first person in to the doctor’s office in the morning, I’d still wait at least an hour before seeing the doctor. And then there were the drug costs with private insurance… even those are subsidized by Healthy San Francisco.

For those who think that if you have income, but no insurance offered and want to consider Healthy SF, but think it will cost a fortune, you’re wrong. It doesn’t. And naturally, if you are indeed broke it is 100% free as preventative care is much, much cheaper for the city than emergency room care. And if you sign up, but then get a job a few months later with insurance, you can always cancel the policy. I mean, shit happens in this city and you could easily get whacked in an intersection. If you don’t have insurance of any kind, kiss your savings goodbye. Get Healthy SF if for no other reason than, “What if…”

But beyond berating you if you’re uninsured and live in San Francisco, this all comes around to Kelly Malone and her cancer battle. Cancer is an asshole. I’ve lost several family members to it and it’s an even bigger asshole if you don’t have insurance when you get it. This happened to my father who had a rare type of cancer that could have been held at bay by a once-a-month injection that cost $4,000. He was an artist (ie really not rolling in money) and had no/couldn’t get insurance. Thus gradually, over the course of five years, he died at 60. I can’t tell you how much that sucked and how if he had had access to a program such as Healthy San Francisco he would most likely still be alive today.

On this Bold Italic blog post I left a comment asking why Kelly doesn’t enroll in Healthy San Francisco. Apparently the comment was lost due to some technical problems. Basically, what I was saying was that while it has its stumbling blocks, Healthy SF does work with people who are royally screwed when it comes to health insurance. Remember those bicyclists who were hit by that nut in Potrero Hill? They actually worked to back-insure one of them who didn’t have coverage so that while recovering he also wasn’t being bankrupted. This is a system that is there for you when you’re leading your normal life or totally screwed.

While I totally commend the SF community spirit in coming together to fundraise for Kelly’s treatment, this is not a long term solution. Fighting cancer is insanely expensive (thanks PharmaIndustrial Complex!) and goes on for years as two aunts of mine experienced. This isn’t the first time that this has come up in the SF community as last Fall, there was a fundraiser by Mandy Harper (owner of Wolesome Bakery) to help her brother Nick recover from brain cancer. Again, the spirit was wonderful and I’m continuously in awe at the generosity of San Franciscans, but why wasn’t Nick making use of Healthy San Francisco? Why are people being reduced to what is basically a school bake sale in order to survive? This isn’t a field trip to the State Capital, it’s your life!

Whatever the case has been for examples like Kelly and Nick, take it as a lesson that you seriously need to sign up today if you have no insurance — or at least find out if you qualify. Your ass will thank you for saving it somewhere down the road.