Longtime Members Appreciate 30 Years OF Contra Costa Health Plan
July 23, 2003
For 30 years, Contra Costa Health Plan has been one of the most unique things about life in Contra Costa County. Elsie and Billy Skinner couldn't agree more.
The Health Plan and physician Dr. John Lee have been constants for nearly that long in the lives of the Skinners, and the Plan actually played a hand in keeping Billy around to enjoy his retirement.
"He died down there in Emergency and they brought him back twice," Elsie Skinner said of her husband's 1983 heart attack. Billy Skinner, 71, is a retired engineer.
"He had wonderful care down there," said Mrs. Skinner, a drapery maker who across town in Martinez from Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. The Medical Center, which is run by Contra Costa Health Services and serves Contra Costa Health Plan (CCHP), opened in 1997 and is the newest hospital in the East Bay. The Skinners joined CCHP in the mid-'70s, so long ago she can't recall exactly when.
That was very early in the history of the nation's first publicly run HMO, which was created in 1973 initially as a way for the county to provide prepaid health care services to Medi-Cal recipients in Contra Costa.
"For the first few years, that was primarily what we did," said Milt Camhi, chief administrator of CCHP. "We've broadened quite a bit since then."
In 1980, when CCHP became the first county-sponsored HMO in the country to receive federal qualification, the Plan's total revenue generated by premiums from its 1,000 members was less than $1 million, almost entirely from Medi-Cal. That was also the year CCHP opened its first official clinic in Martinez.
Today, CCHP is one of the fastest growing HMOs in the Bay Area, with 60,000 members and premium revenues of more than $100 million.
As a federally qualified HMO, CCHP now enrolls employee groups and private individuals as well as Medi-Cal and Medicare beneficiaries and low-income residents of Contra Costa.
"Our private enrollment is generally targeted at public employee groups and small private employers and individuals who are not eligible for other group coverage," said Camhi, who has worked for the Plan since 1986.
While numerous services and facilities have been added over the life of CCHP - including the hospital, nine local clinics, advice nurse service and other care - several staff members have been with the Plan even longer than the Skinners.
"When I joined they gave us resumes of all the doctors," Mrs. Skinner said of how she came to be under the care of Dr. John Lee. "I read them and I picked him, and he's been my doctor ever since. I like him a lot."
That goes for the whole Plan, in fact. The Skinners are unabashedly happy members of CCHP, for as Elsie says, "My husband is always telling people, 'You ought to go down there and join!'"
For more information about Contra Costa Health Plan, call the Plan's marketing department at 1-800-211-8040.
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- Tess O'Riva