In 1997, with a great deal of push from Hillary Clinton, CHIP…The Childrens Health Insurance Plan was created as a way to ensure that ALL children in America were covered by health insurance.It’s an important program, with most recent estimates showing that over 8 million children are covered. CHIP is unique because it extends benefits to families that are just above the income requirements to be eligible for Medicaid. This program stands in the gap for families that are not impoverished, but are also not able to handle the absorbent costs of employer based health care policies or greater still the costs of an out of pocket coverage.
The program has a noble goal…but recently I have been reflecting on the chip in CHIP’s armor. Although the numbers of children enrolled in the program is impressive…(click here for enrollment numbers by state), many are still unable to access care.The real impact of the CHIP program is only realized when behavioral health providers are willing to work with this program to meet the needs of the children it covers. With the current trend to move away from accepting health insurance, many parents hear statements like:
“We don’t accept insurance”
“I can offer you a sliding scale fee”
“……” or nothing at all when they don’t receive a return call after leaving a message indicating their needs.
We hear from those parents often.
Parents that sheepishly ask if we accept insurance, because they know so many behavioral health providers won’t. Parents that express a genuine gratitude in knowing that there is a quality provider that is willing to work with their family…even if it means a bit of a wait because we are often full.
So what is the solution…
Providers have a legitimate concern about reimbursements from Medicaid being less than their full free.
Providers also know that there is additional work required to bill for Medicaid.
What providers may not realize, is that Medicaid is one of the fastest payers in the insurance industry. Once properly set up, you can receive reimbursement for your work in a matter of days.
What providers may not realize is that you don’t have to build your entire practice on working with Medicaid, but you can make a positive contribution by reserving a few spaces to serve the children that need you the most.
I believe we have to build practices that are as diverse as the communities we live in.
If you work with children…I just want to encourage you to think about it. If you are willing to get started with Medicaid/CHIP…call me and in a free consultation I will answer any questions you have on how. That will be my contribution.