posted by Courtney Jay
on September 3, 2015
To tackle the barriers to patient care, health plans have gone mobile. Mobile technology is a valuable resource for health plans to connect with Medicaid beneficiaries. Through text notifications from their health plans, beneficiaries stay informed about preventive and ongoing care and receive convenient reminders about proactive steps they can take to improve their overall health and well-being.
This type of mobile engagement thrives thanks to the support of the Lifeline program, an initiative that provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income individuals. Yet as policymakers consider limitations on eligibility to the Lifeline program, AHIP is urging the Federal Communications Commission to maintain Medicaid as a pathway for beneficiary access to affordable mobile technology.
The benefits of mobile engagement among Medicaid beneficiaries are clear. Mobile technology makes it easy for soon-to-be moms and young mothers to get reminders via text about preventive services visits and pre-natal check-ups, so they get the appropriate care they need at the right time. As states consider how best to care for patients managing chronic conditions, one study of a mobile phone text messaging program involving diabetes management found cost savings of $812 per participant over a six-month period.
AHIP’s letter raises concerns about the impact on patient access and care that would result if Medicaid was eliminated as a pathway for low-income individuals to access the Lifeline program. Recent studies show that limiting consumer access to Lifeline only through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) would result in far fewer low-income beneficiaries receiving Lifeline coverage because of SNAP’s low take-up rates. Millions of beneficiaries could potentially fall through the cracks.
Maintaining Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to the Lifeline program is a crucial part of meeting the health care needs of the most vulnerable patients, and health plans stand ready to support efforts that protect and promote these services for low-income beneficiaries.