Need health insurance? The story of Vic Hill

Vic Hill spent 63 years without health care. Two years ago, he signed up for health insurance through Puente. It was just in the nick of time. A San Mateo County doctor gave him a physical, ran some tests, and found stage II colon cancer.

“It’s a disturbing cancer from the standpoint of not being able to feel it at all,” muses Hill, who lives in La Honda on a fixed income.

Thanks to San Mateo County’s Medicaid Coverage Expansion program (MCE), Hill had successful colon surgery to remove the cancer – for free. His doctor’s visits and medications were free, too.

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“I’m feeling fortunate, because it looks as though it was removed and we got it in time. Thank you, Puente,” says Hill, who has a general aversion to doctors and hadn’t been to a hospital since he was 9 years old.

Staff members at Puente’s La Honda office made a point of telling Hill about Puente’s medical safety net services when he visited the La Honda Farmer’s Market one day in 2010.

Puente acts as an agent for numerous county-backed health care options for the uninsured. Between 2008 and 2012, Puente signed up or renewed a whopping 965 children and adults for programs like Healthy Families and Healthy Kids. The number of local enrollees has grown every year, and includes coverage for undocumented children.

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Puente recently mounted a major campaign to reach out to La Honda residents like Hill, who are living in a part of the region that is even more geographically isolated than Pescadero. Many live hand-to-mouth, stretching dollars from their monthly Social Security checks, and may not have the wherewithal to drive to Half Moon Bay or San Mateo to get enrolled in a health care program, says Lorena Vargas de Mendez, Puente’s Safety Net Services Manager.

“I know a lady in La Honda who doesn’t have a car. The fact that Puente was there to help her get enrolled in comprehensive health coverage is huge,” says Vargas de Mendez.

Hill still doesn’t much enjoy going to the doctor. But he’s sold on the benefits of having Puente in the neighborhood.


“Without some kind of social safety net I can’t imagine what people around here would be doing,” he says.

Contact Lorena Vargas to Mendez to learn more about Puente’s safety net services and whether you qualify. or (650) 879-1691 x116

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