Staff at AlohaCare are preparing for a historic period in which they will be working nonstop to help Hawaii residents retain their health coverage or find new pathways to insurance, if needed.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, all Medicaid members received continuous coverage throughout the PHE, even if their eligibility changed. With the continuous coverage provision now ending on March 31st, health plans are working to update customer information, contact them, and guide them to other coverage options if they are determined to be ineligible for Medicaid.
AlohaCare CEO Francoise Culley-Trotman told State of Reform that the health plan will be using multiple communication pathways to reach customers.
“One thing we learned through the pandemic is that using multiple communication channels is the most effective method,” Culley-Trotman said. “We have staff that are continuing to do FAQs with customers, especially as information changes throughout this process. We have offices on all the major islands, so there’s a strategy in place that, once members start to lose coverage, we have an approach to surround them with supports.”
Health plans can now text Medicaid beneficiaries, which has greatly helped AlohaCare’s outreach, Culley-Trotman said.
“The text campaign has had a good response,” she said. “We also use Twitter, Facebook, and our member newsletters to get the message out. We have multiple communication channels going. The most powerful thing we recognize is that our community-based organizations are all like-minded, and address the social needs of our customers. They’re also making sure everything is culturally responsive to get our message across, and have representatives who are able to speak the languages of all the diverse populations we have here.”
Customer outreach will be key, as a new Urban Institute survey showed that 60% of surveyed adults were not aware their eligibility for Medicaid could be in danger.
The notification process will occur over a one-year period beginning in April and ending in March 2024. Med-QUEST (Hawaii’s Medicaid carrier), which provides eligible low-income adults and children with access to health coverage through managed care plans, expects more than 465,000 members to go through the redetermination process. Med-QUEST member renewals have been divided evenly across the 12-month period.
“The Med-Quest Division has a communications campaign, and we are working to align with their message of being as supportive as we can, and have a consistent message within our communities,” Culley-Trotman said. “We realize this could be a difficult time for some, so we want to bring clarification to the process. We’re just starting in Hawaii, so we’re hoping the process will be smooth. We are going to work with our partners to fill in any information gaps.”
AlohaCare does not currently have specific information regarding how many of its 83,000-plus members could be disenrolled during the redetermination process, Culley-Trotman said.
“But we are planning to staff up and be as responsive as we can to make redeterminations,” she said. “We are going to have clear aligning messages based on communication plans, and help provide individuals with coverage through the health insurance marketplace by providing them with general information.
We are in the early days, and there is a range in terms of the timeframe for when someone might see they’re not eligible. People who are disenrolled will need to understand how to address their social and healthcare coverage needs, and we’ll stay on high alert to help connect them to the services they need.”
In order to prepare for the renewal period, Med-QUEST has requested that members:
- Update their contact information by logging into their account at medical.mybenefits.hawaii.gov
- Call 1-800-316-8005 if Med-QUEST coverage is no longer needed
- Watch the mail for a pink envelope that will provide instructions on eligibility renewals, and follow its instructions to renew
- Check with their employer to see if they are eligible for coverage, should they no longer qualify for Med-QUEST
- Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 if they are not eligible for insurance through their employer