Tuesday, November 15, 2016

If you have Masshealth managed care, you can get a bunch of free stuff

I just learned that the various Masshealth managed care plans (Tufts Health Together, BMC HealthNet, Neighborhood Health Plan) have reimbursements and freebies just like private insurance does.

Tufts Health Together offers $50 per year per member reimbursement for gym memberships, dance and exercise classes, or sports leagues. They offer $30 reimbursement for contacts or glasses purchased out of pocket. They also have reimbursement for childbirth classes and breastpumps. They send one free bike helmet per year per child or adult member via mail and vouchers for $25 off a booster seat or $50 off a convertible seat (this is enough to purchase the cheapest models on the market). They also will send you gift cards for doing proactive health tasks, like filling out an asthma action plan or going to diabetes visits. Check out their member handbook, pages 23-27.

Neighborhood Health Plan offers $50 per year per member reimbursement for gyms only, $15 off bike helmets for children and adults, childbirth classes, and breasts pump sent by mail.

Boston Medical Center HealthNet offers free car seats and booster seats by mail, a free box of disposable diapers for parents of newborns, $200 per year per family reimbursement for gyms only (it's unclear whether this is the limit per family or whether a single gym member would get this whole amount back), one free bike helmet per child member per size, and dental kits (which appear to be the stuff you get free at the dentist anyway).

The basics of these extras seem to be pretty much the same for the three plans, though they differ in terms of how much of a discount they give on particular items and whether you have to front the money for various costs. It seems like it would make the most sense to join BMC HealthNet if you have a baby or toddler, then switch to Tufts Health Together, which seems to cover the most stuff overall. Surprisingly, switching managed care plans once you're already enrolled in MassHealth is actually really easy.

Please, spread the word about these benefits! We've never been told about any of this in many years of having MassHealth and using community clinics. I actually don't think most of the providers know what's available to their patients, though they're happy to write down that we ignore their recommendations to join gyms and use expensive over-the-counter products. So, let people know they can get things through their MassHealth plan, and let them know about all the drugstore items MassHealth covers.

By the way, I've had mixed luck using the OTC program. When providers ask us to start using a vitamin supplement or ear drops or something, I ask them to write a prescription for it so MassHealth will cover it. So far none of them have been aware of this program. About half have seemed happy to hear it's a thing and have written the prescriptions. Others just insist "you don't need a prescription for that" and even "there's no such thing as a prescription for Benadryl."

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