Insurer offers

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Woodland Hills-based Health Net announced plans Wednesday to offer the first binational individual health insurance plans targeting Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties. Called Mexi-Plan, the insurance will cost as little as $75 a month with $15 co-payments. “For years, what has been done is a product is put out there and just translated into Spanish,” said Rueben Beltran, the Mexican consul general in Los Angeles who backed the plan. “This is going to revolutionize health care coverage for Latinos.” Touted as a culturally sensitive and affordable plan, the coverage offered is about 40 percent cheaper than average health plans and is one of five cross-border plans offered through Health Net. About five years ago the company launched Salud con Health Net, an employee- based plan that also provided binational coverage in three border towns in Mexico: Tecate, Tijuana and Mexicali. The company has since signed up more than 20,000 members for the plan, and said it can reach an audience of up to half a million with the new plan. “The addition of Mexi-Plan and Health Net’s other new plans for Latinos and their families is expected to make a meaningful impact on lowering the rate of uninsured Latinos in California and lowering overall health care costs,” said Stephen Lynch, president of Health Net, the third-largest for-profit HMO in California. More than 2 million Latinos in California are uninsured, leaving many without essential care and placing a burden on the state’s already crowded emergency rooms. For a truly binational plan to take root, there must be more comprehensive coverage that extends throughout Mexico, where basic health care is universal, said Xochitl Casta eda, the California-Mexico Health Initiative’s . “The majority of the uninsured people of California are Mexicans and they don’t understand the concept (of insurance) because in Mexico health care is a human right; people receive it for free. So they show up at the emergency rooms here,” she said. High rates of poverty – about 25 percent of Mexican immigrants live below the poverty level, according to recent study between the Mexican government and the University of California – make even the lowest rates prohibitive. “I am skeptical. People are really going to buy into that. We have trouble with Healthy Families, a state program, getting people to pay just $8 a month,” said Michael Cousineau, director of community health in the Department of Family Medicine at University of Southern California. “It’s still going to be a formidable barrier at that rate, for those on the very low income side.” Still, Victor Blanco, president of Clinica Medica General with medical centers in six locations including Van Nuys, said the service is sorely needed in his centers where one-third of the 15,000 patients who walk in monthly pay in cash because they don’t have insurance. “My patients can afford basic care but if they get something really bad like gallstones or they need surgery, they get hit pretty hard. They have to dip into their life savings. With insurance, they are not going to find themselves in trouble.” [email protected] (818) 713-3741last_img read more