California has made it easier for residents to undertake home STI testing. It’s mandated that medical insurance plans cover the costs of home STI testing.
This means that instead of going to a clinic, those in California will—soon—be able to test themselves at home.
The move comes following a dramatic rise in sexually-transmitted infections in recent years. STIs have risen across the US, but particularly so in California.
In 2019, the last year for which data is available, there were 28,846 cases of syphilis in the state (349% more than 10 years ago), 80,599 cases of gonorrhea (236% more than 10 years ago) and 237,630 cases of chlamydia (a 61% increase from ten years ago).
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The new law, part of the broader Senate Bill 306, took effect from January 1 for those with state-recognized private medical insurance. It will take effect at a later date for those on Medicaid (Medi-Cal).
“This is the first law of its kind, and I’d say it’s kind of cutting-edge,” Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations for the National Coalition of STD Directors, told the LA Times. “We want to bring down every single barrier for someone to get STI testing, and out-of-pocket cost is a huge factor.”
Although the new law came into effect on January 1, those wanting to take advantage of it will still have to wait a while. The home testing kits are still pending approval by federal regulators. Also, an analysis of the law change warns that health care providers may take some months to update their practices and billing.
SB 306 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom last October. Among the organizations to sponsor the legislation were APLA Health, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
In a joint statement, those organizations said, “For the past six years, STI rates have reached record highs in California. The signing of SB 306 is a critical and important step in addressing this ongoing public health crisis and achieving greater health equity statewide … SB 306 is the bold action California needs to turn the tide on rising STI rates.”
SB 306 was authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). Upon its signing, Pan said, “STI rates across the country have reached crisis levels and it has become worse as an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea spread across the country.”
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The HIV & Aging Act
Besides SB 306, another California law coming into effect on January 1 was SB 258, the HIV & Aging Act. Authored by gay state Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), it adds older people with HIV to the population deemed to be at “greatest social need”. This gives priority access to programs and services offered by the California Department of Aging.
Equality California was among several organizations to sponsor SB 258. Its Legislative Director Tami A. Martin said in a statement, “After surviving the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, many Californians living with HIV are now over the age of 50, but in dire need of support. Thanks to Governor Newsom, Senator Laird, and HIV advocates, the Golden State will now make sure that our elders living with HIV have access to food assistance, job training, transportation, or any other vital services.”
For those who think this is great news for everyone, please realize that the law is for “private insureds” which means although they will see additional benefits from their healthcare policy, they will also see policy price increases to support the additional benefits. IF the majority of STI’s in Cali are linked to the LGBTQ community, this may well cause the straight community to blame healthcare insurance cost increases on that community. My kids have benefited from Obamacare’s rule that covers kids up to age 26 under their parents policies but don’t think that doesn’t come with a policy increase and that same increase will be on my kid’s future policies for the life of their policy. NOTHING is free when it comes to private insurance and politicians who tack this stuff on thru laws are just fishing for the votes of suckers who don’t realize the cost.
As someone who works in the health insurance industry, this alone will not increase, as likely the participation will be low. Your perspective is more simplistic than health care pricing is. ACA did not cause increases of insurance, it was back in the Bush administration when they created “consumer driven health care” and failure of our federal government to control health care costs. The majority of increases is based on prescription drugs…and one specific minority population won’t drive an increase of rates for everyone, just like HIV/AIDS doesn’t drive everyone else. Can it impact, sure, but it’s 1% or less of the reason. Just like covering your kids (glad you can do that!)…kids up to 26 have the lowest claim percentages, so it has never truly impacted rates. American’s weight and diets have driven a tremendous amount of the costs towards Diabetes and other chronic health conditions. I imagine MediCal will also cover this benefit, since it’s a state-sponsored bill.
Keep drinking that cool-aid tmaPSP. Obamacare most certainly increased my healthcare premiums. Being self employed, I have paid 100% of my healthcare insurance premiums thru a private policy all my adult life. Private insurance companies “pool” similar customers into “groups” that spreads the cost of medical care across everyone in the pool with the assumption that not everyone in the pool will need medical care and their premiums will help pay for those that do need care. Obamacare grandfathered many policies like mine that provided good coverage but didn’t meet every requirement of the ACA. The loophole was that grandfathered policies couldn’t take on new policyholders. This meant as time went by, everyone in my pool has either 1. Died and no longer pay into the pool, or 2. became older and statistically require more healthcare which exponentially caused premiums to skyrocket to cover the total cost of healthcare. I had good insurance before Obamacare that was capable of sustaining it’s pool by introducing new younger customers, but when Obamacare closed the door to new customers, it left many policyholders on a raft drifting out to sea with nobody to help. Furthermore, Obamacare has not followed thru with the promised “everyone will have insurance” which is a major driving force to increased medical care costs because my insurance pays for your non-covered healthcare, second only to the overwhelming greed of the medical and pharma industry who are simply too good at staying one jump ahead of new regulations that try to keep them reigned in. Add to this the fact that Obamacare added many unnecessary requirements of ACA policies that add to the cost of medical care and nobody can sincerely claim that Obamacare did not increase medical insurance costs. As for the Bush era “consumer driven health care”, that was the results of the maturing of widespread employer paid health care which further removed the “payer” from the “billing receiver” which spawned the ever increasing ability and greed of the healthcare industry to gouge prices higher since the consumer really didn’t care or become aware of the actual costs. Once the healthcare industry got a taste of how much easy money they could make, they have refused to work for less.
I dont see that happening regarding increases to policies. They said that for Prep because my insurance pays $1800.00 every 3 months…never changed in premiums.
As the late Groucho Marx once stated to Margaret Dumont in ‘A day at the Races’ How would you like a free lunch’ all while puffing on his trusty cigar and batting those caterpillar eyebrows. That being said, who here’s sick and tired of having to pay higher taxes for the irresponsible people who are on the public dole and think everything is free? Well in reality, there’s no such thing as a FREE lunch or for that matter anything else in life! Someone has to foot the bill and as far as I and a hell of a lot of others here feel let people pay their own damned bills for once in their lives. Really the costs of living in California are going to nosebleed heights and for the most part this is due to all the leeches who always have their hands out for free stuff and the politicians who promise the gravy train will continue despite paying nothing but expecting the overburdened taxpayers to foot the bill
Although you stated it a bit harsher than I did, I have to generally agree with you. The sooner everyone understand NOTHING is FREE, the better off society as a whole will be.
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