Monday, June 17, 2024

Virginia Seniors can Benefit from Dual-Eligible Special-Needs Plans

Up to 50% of eligible residents in Virginia’s counties were enrolled in a dual-eligible special needs plan in 2021. (Adobe Stock)

RICHMOND — Virginia seniors can see daily health and well-being benefits from certain health-care plans. Dual-eligible special-needs plans offer Medicare and Medicaid coverage for eligible people, meaning they meet the income requirements and live where the plans are available. They’re designed for people with low incomes, certain medical conditions or unique health-care requirements.

Dr. Gina Williams, medical director with UnitedHealthcare, said these plans use a dynamic approach to help eligible seniors.

“Everything from managing your wellness to managing your behavioral-health needs and then everyday needs. So, it’s kind of a more comprehensive package for people who need a little bit more support,” she explained.

In Virginia, only 25% of eligible individuals were signed up for a dual-eligible plan in 2021, a stark increase from three years before when only 4% signed up for one. However, this is still lower than the national average of 29%.

Along with Medicare Parts A and B converge and Medicaid benefits, these plans include dental coverage, transportation assistance and allowances for things like healthy foods.

In the years since the pandemic, health officials have been working to keep people insured. Although uninsured rates dropped during the pandemic, they’ve been rising again as people are dropped from Medicaid’s continuous enrollment. Williams says in a post-pandemic world, preventive care is a necessity.

“Everybody’s kind of going into a phase where they’re not only thinking about acute illness, but they’re thinking about overall care — like, what was the impact of the pandemic from a psychological standpoint? Do you need more support and then you also need more coordination of benefits?” she continued.

As of last December, less than 3% of Virginia residents have been dropped from Medicaid. Nationwide, close to 4 million people had lost their Medicaid coverage by last summer, with estimates that 15 million will lose their coverage as the process continues.

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