340B Health

Faces of 340B

Paul Haskins, Belmont, CA

In 1972, Paul was shot in the stomach when he was robbed at gunpoint. The bullet tore through his pancreas and damaged his digestive system. The attack rendered him diabetic. Paul lost his insurance in 1986 and his health problems made finding a job difficult. “There were times when my blood sugar was so low that I’d pass out at the dinner table for about 10 minutes until my blood sugar recovered,” he recalls.  “That’s how dangerous it was. But syringes and insulin and regular medical treatments were unaffordable.” His health luck didn’t improve. In 1990, Paul was injured while scuba diving and tore open the sutures from his earlier surgery. By 2011, he had a hernia in his middle the size of a Texas grapefruit. Paul received treatment at San Mateo County (Calif.) Medical Center, thanks in part to savings from the 340B program. Three years later, Paul developed a foot ulcer that would not heal due to his diabetes. He received care for 70 days at the hospital and was by then insured through Medicare and California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. It’s not widely known but these government programs pay hospitals below cost. Again, because of the 340B program, the hospital was able to cover the difference on Paul’s care and keep resources available for other needy patients. The hospital now provides Paul discounts on his medications. “The 340B program allows me to buy insulin at prices I can afford,” he says.