The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program, celebrates its first anniversary today. What an amazing year it has been for the program – with enrollment currently just over 600,000! The governor’s budget for 2015 estimated enrollment at 400,000 and 450,000 for budget year 2016. The budget released in February 2015 revised those estimates upward to 540,000 for 2015 and 580,000 for 2016. Those forecasts already have been surpassed – and it’s only April.
It is hard to imagine the peace of mind and improved quality of life this program has brought to hundreds of thousands of low-income individuals and their families. As of March 30, nearly five of six individuals enrolled in the program have incomes at or below the federal poverty level, about $11,800 per year for one person or $24,300 for a family of four. They can see a doctor for annual check-ups, obtain the medications they need to manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer, or seek treatment when they are ill or injured.
Current enrollment is just over half female at 51%. The largest enrollment by age category is 164,000 enrollees between the ages of 25 and 34, the age group that was most likely to be uninsured prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act. What peace of mind for the parents of these enrollees knowing that their young adults have healthcare coverage and won’t start their careers or adulthood in financial ruin from medical debt.
Those enrolled in the program are taking advantage of the opportunity to take control of their health and are receiving the services available to them. According to the Department of Community Health, more than 380,000 primary care and preventive care visits occurred in the first 10 months of the program. Enrollees are clearly engaged in improving their health and managing their chronic diseases with nearly half choosing to follow-up on their chronic diseases by themselves or in combination with other healthy behaviors, such as weight loss.
Under the program, enrollees also can receive incentives for tackling health issues or maintaining healthy behaviors. In addition, those with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression, will be better able to manage their conditions with no copays that create obstacles to care.
While the enrollment system and implementation have not been without bumps in the road, the fact that more than 600,000 Michigan residents have gained high- quality healthcare coverage is simply amazing!
The Department of Community Health deserves a great deal of credit for the success of this program to date, but the governor and lawmakers deserve the credit for approving the legislation that created the program. Happy anniversary!
– Jan Hudson