Keeping Healthcare Affordable
By Barbara Truitt,
Last week I talked about the importance of exercising to maintain your health. Regular medical exams are equally important, to keep little health problems from becoming big ones.
When I encounter friends at the Healthcare District, I often say “Just here for routine maintenance, I hope,” and the response is usually “Yes.” That’s gratifying, because periodic health screenings, routine lab and radiology exams, physical therapy, and prescription reviews and refills can be a key to maintaining good health. Annual physical exams are important for everyone, regardless of ages, as our healthcare needs change throughout our lives.
Medicare, Medi-Cal, and most private insurance plans cover initial health assessment exams and annual physicals or “well visits.” For those without coverage, both the Southern Humboldt Community Clinic and Redwoods Rural Health Center offer discounts and other forms of financial assistance to eligible patients.
Eligibility for Medicare begins at age 65, or earlier for many people who are on Social Security Disability Insurance.
Did you know that within the first year of obtaining Medicare coverage, all recipients are entitled to a Medicare Welcome exam?
During this visit, your doctor will record your medical history and check your vision, blood pressure, and weight and height to measure your body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat that applies to both men and women. Your doctor will check that you are up to date with appropriate immunizations and with screenings for such conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Your doctor will give you advice to help you prevent disease, improve your health, and stay well. You will also get a written plan or checklist letting you know which screenings and other preventive services you should get in the future, and when.
Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program, covers individuals and families whose income is at or below 138% of the Federal Poverty level. At this time the Medi-Cal income eligibility threshold is $19,127 per year for an individual and $39,040 for a family of four.
A few years ago, the state mandated that all Medi-Cal coverage must be administered by an intermediary. In many counties, the intermediary is a private health insurance company or a “business process services” company. We are fortunate that in Humboldt County, our intermediary is Partnership Healthplan of California (PHC), because PHC is a non-profit community-based healthcare organization committed to nurturing the health of all its members and the communities they reside in.
PHC contracts with the State to administer Medi-Cal benefits through local care providers to ensure Medi-Cal recipients have access to high-quality, comprehensive, and cost-effective healthcare, covering over 560,000 Californians. Originated in Solano County in 1994, PHC now provides services to 14 Northern California counties – Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino, Modoc, Napa, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Trinity, and Yolo – each of which has a vibrant local advisory board.
SHCHD Cost-saving Programs
For some who have no insurance or have high deductible plans, getting these exams can be costly. We at SHCHD don’t want cost to prevent you from obtaining the care you deserve, so we’ve developed a number of programs to help reduce these costs.
- Quick-pay discount: Uninsured patients can obtain a 20% discount for paying at time of service or within 30 days of their first billing statement date.
- Voucher Program: Credits equal to the amount of SHCHD parcel tax payments can be applied to the bills of property owners, their renters, or their dependents.
- Special payment plans: Low-income uninsured individuals and families can apply for extended, interest-free payment plans of no more than 10% of their monthly net incomes after essential living expenses.
Information & Appointments
To learn more about your eligibility for SHCHD’s cost-saving programs, call our Patient Financial Services manager Jennifer Melvoen at (707) 923-3921, ext 293. To schedule an exam, call the appointments desk at Southern Humboldt Community Clinic at (707) 923-3921, extension 221.
Don’t wait until you have pressing health concerns; join us now in practicing wellness.
Barbara Truitt, Former Foundation Director and Outreach Dept, Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District