Patients can now get help signing up for Apple Health at QVMC
Thanks to recent training of five on the staff at Quincy Valley Medical Center, the clinic and hospital have begun assisting patients with the registration process for Medicaid coverage so more low-income patients can pay their health care bills.
Washington state’s version of Medicaid, called Apple Health, serves patients of any age if they qualify for the program, which is based largely on income.
Jerry Hawley, CEO of QVMC, said there are a lot of people who may be working and could qualify for Apple Health. Some of its programs are free of charge, while there is also a tier that involves a premium for those with a little higher income. If people think they might qualify, they should come in and talk to a financial counselor at QVMC, he said.
“It benefits them, and it obviously benefits us,” Hawley said.
There is no fee to enroll, and QVMC’s financial counselors speak English and Spanish. They work in the business office at the main entrance to the hospital, but patients can ask for them also at the clinic during regular business hours.
So far, registration for Apple Health has typically been done after a patient is taken care of by medical staff. The patient then returns with the documents needed, said Rebecca Lewis, QVMC’s business office manager. The process includes going over financial information and identification – it’s similar to qualifying for food stamps, Hawley said.
Once signed up for Apple Health, patients get a card to carry with them, and the coverage goes with them outside of QVMC.
A big part of the new sign-ups fall under the Alien Emergency Medical program within Apple Health, Lewis said. The AEM program applies to low-income and undocumented patients – but only for the day of service.
According to the Washington State Health Care Authority website, the AEM program “is coverage for individuals who do not meet citizenship or immigration status requirements, or for qualified individuals who have not met the 5-year immigration bar, and have a qualifying medical condition.”
Coverage under AEM lasts one day, but it can be used more than once, explained Lewis, though the paperwork has to be done each time. It can take a month or two months to find out if an applicant qualifies, she said.
QVMC started about six months ago getting people on staff trained to help with the registration process for Apple Health and AEM.
“It’s a pretty lengthy training for them to be able to do it,” Lewis said – about 15 hours of training.
The first sign-up at QVMC was done about three months ago, Lewis said.
“There have been a limited number so far,” Hawley said, but he hopes that more people will sign up as they become aware that QVMC can help.
By Dave Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org