Traditionally, Medicaid programs have not been known as hotbeds of innovation. However, West Virginia is instituting a new initiative--possibly the first of its type in the U.S.--that offers a completely new approach to fostering preventive care and wellness among its population. While a few states are offering incentives to patients that cooperate with doctors and go to regular appointments, West Virginia may be the first to bump them to a plan with less coverage if they don't agree to do so.
Whether or not their plan is working is arguable. Only 12 percent of those eligible for the greater coverage actually signed up, with another 3 percent in the process of enrolling. On the other hand, enrollment is higher in the three pilot counties that have had longer to get used to the plan. This suggests that the plan may end up being more successful over time.
Critics, meanwhile, question if people who are being put into the basic plan actually know what they are missing by not getting the enhanced coverage. And some people may simply not see the need for the higher level of coverage, and therefore don't want to commit, they suggest. They also note that some may not have dependable transportation, which makes it difficult for them to attend regular doctor appointments as the plan requires.
Regardless, it seems likely that the plan will produce interesting results whether or not it succeeds. It should be worth watching.
To learn more about the program:
- read this AMNews piece