September 8, 2019 Lansing, MI (AMN) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is taking another step in its efforts to preserve coverage for Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries by mailing new informational letters to program enrollees. Beneficiaries who will be affected by new work requirements beginning in January will receive mailed notifications starting this month in MDHHS’s most significant step yet to inform enrollees and help preserve their health insurance coverage.
MDHHS began sending notification letters on Tuesday to more than 270,000 Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries who currently are not exempt from the work requirements based on department records. To retain coverage, these individuals must comply with the new requirements beginning in January.
“These letters are an important step in MDHHS’s multifaceted plan to give Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries clear information about what they need to do to continue their coverage,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon.
“We are doing everything in our power so that individuals can comply with this complex and demanding statute. Clear communication is key.”
The letter notifies beneficiaries that beginning Jan. 1, 2020, they will be required to report to MDHHS each month 80 hours of work or other eligible activities, such as job training. It lets them know that if they do not report, they could lose their health care coverage. Beneficiaries are also advised that they will receive more information in December about how to inform MDHHS about their work activities.
A form is included for beneficiaries to fill out if they meet one of the exemptions from the work requirements – such as being medically frail or a full-time student.
Michigan enacted its highly successful Healthy Michigan Plan effective April 1, 2014, after bipartisan approval of legislation that expanded Medicaid to more than 650,000 additional people with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
According to research from the University of Michigan, the Healthy Michigan Plan has more than doubled primary care usage, reduced enrollees’ reliance on the emergency room by 58 percent, cut uncompensated care by nearly 50 percent, and added $2.3 billion to the state’s economy.
In 2018, the Legislature voted to implement work requirements for Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries upon approval from the federal government, which occurred in December.
MDHHS partnered with the firm MAXIMUS to use what’s called human-centered design in developing the informational letters. The idea is to make the letters easy to read and understand by using simple, vivid language, large fonts, bright colors and clear asks. Research from the field of behavioral science has shown that changes of this kind have a meaningful impact on response rates.
In addition to this month’s notification letters, MDHHS has put in place a communication plan to get the word out about the upcoming work requirements. The department has hosted webinars for community partners and providers and will build upon these efforts throughout the fall with paid advertising, media outreach, social media posts and additional outreach to community partners and stakeholders who work with people who may be affected.
In October, notifications will also go out to Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries who are exempt from the work requirements, including people who will be age 62 and older.