Michigan's Medicaid expansion plan, Healthy Michigan, was launched on April 1, 2014, hoping to enroll 322,000 people by the end of the year. Today, it surpassed that goal. MDCH Public Information Officer, Angela Minicuci, says by about 1,000 people.
"This shows that there's definitely a need and a demand for this program in the state of Michigan. It's providing coverage for people that never had coverage before...."
The expansion plan makes it possible for more than 477,000 low-income working people to access Medicaid. "So Individuals who make less than 133% of the federal poverty level. That equals about 16,000 for an individual or about 33,000 for a family of 4," Minicuci says.
There are several ways to find out if you qualify. Minicuci explains, "You can go in person, online, or by phone, you can get an eligibility determination within minutes and then from there if you are eligible, you can be enrolled right there and coverage is retroactive to the first day of the month you apply."
Despite the unexpected high enrollment, Chief Operating Officer Tom Mee of McLaren Hospital says there hasn't been a significant change in Medicaid volume. "We've seen less that a 1% increase so far, but it's a bit soon to expect any big changes in volume, so on a year to date basis since April 1st, we've seen a .88% increase in Medicaid volume."
But, he hopes this expansion will keep people with problems normally handled by primary care physicians out of the emergency room.
"You know, the emergency rooms are historically set aside for true emergencies and life threatening conditions. So I think it becomes incumbent on hospitals and the primary care physician populations to gear up to provide preventative healthcare services to this new population of patients."
There are two local events coming up where you can receive help to enroll. They're free. One is Tuesday, July 15th from 3pm to 8pm at the Allegiance Health Building on North East Avenue in Jackson. The other is Wednesday, July 23rd, from 3pm to 8pm at the LIfeways Pine Room in North West Avenue in Jackson.