How the Healthy Michigan Plan Helps Patients and Providers

How the Healthy Michigan Plan Helps Patients and Providers

Since it went into effect in April 2014, the state’s Healthy Michigan Plan has exceeded enrollment expectations and helped hospitals get reimbursed for more of the care they provide.

John Ayanian, director of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan, provided an overview of how the plan’s been working with attendees at the Healthy Safety Net Symposium, held recently in East Lansing.

Michigan expanded Medicaid coverage in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act, resulting in the creation of the Healthy Michigan Plan. To qualify for plan coverage, state residents must have an income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level and meet various other requirements.

First-year enrollment projections were surpassed less than four months after the program’s launch. Ayanian said concerns about whether there would be capacity to serve so many newly insured individuals have been laid to rest. Pre-expansion, the median wait time for Medicaid enrollees to be seen by a primary care physician was eight days. Twelve months in, the wait time remained stable at seven days. An increasing reliance on nurse practitioners and physician assistants in handling routine appointments has helped to accommodate new Medicaid enrollees.

“I think that was a positive surprise that we saw from the early data in the first year,” Ayanian said.

With more people insured, the amount of uncompensated care has decreased at Michigan hospitals, Ayanian said. In a recent study, researchers looked at 130 Michigan hospitals that provide acute care. The proportion of discharges for uninsured patients was lower in 2014 compared with the average proportion of uninsured discharges for 2012 and 2013 at 94 percent of the hospitals. As expected, the opposite was also true, with the proportion of discharges for Medicaid patients in 2014 exceeding the average proportion of discharges with Medicaid for 2012 and 2013 in 88 percent of hospitals. The total number of hospital discharges in Michigan remained relatively stable over this three-year period.

Ayanian and his team at U of M are also researching how the Healthy Michigan Plan might affect individual financial outcomes, employment and state tax revenues, and related financial impacts to Michigan’s economy. He said some of those findings will be released in the next year.

Find out more about Blue Cross Complete’s Healthy Michigan Plan benefits here.

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Photo credit: Ilmicrofono Oggiono

 

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