Idaho Medicaid expansion is good news for Idaho State University students
November 26, 2019
ISU Health Center and community health centers prepare for and welcome students with Medicaid coverage
POCATELLO – To prepare for an expected increase in Medicaid patients in January, the Idaho State University Health Center has become a Healthy Connection provider, allowing it to offer expanded services to those insured by Medicaid.
“Being a Healthy Connection provider means ISU students using Medicaid insurance coverage can choose us as their primary care provider and we can perform additional services that previously would have required a referral to a different provider, such as a specialist,” said Crystal Ross, business operations manager for the Health Center. “This will provide convenience and potential cost savings for ISU students who are now eligible for Medicaid coverage.”
In November 2018, Idahoans voted to expand Medicaid coverage to include those living at up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Thousands more Idaho residents, including many ISU students and their families, will now be eligible for the free or low-cost coverage. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports that there are about 91,000 Idahoans who are now eligible for Medicaid coverage.
Although health insurance coverage is not required for admission at Idaho State University, the ISU Health Center in Pocatello expects to see an increase in the number of students who are now utilizing Medicaid coverage.
“Expanded insurance coverage is a good thing,” said Dr. Ron Solbrig, ISU Health Center director. “Expanded coverage will allow students who financially can't afford medical care to receive access to care. I’ve already had about a dozen of my patients inquire about expanded coverage opportunities and about how to enroll. We are happy to answer these questions and help direct them to resources available through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to get enrolled for Medicaid coverage.”
The Idaho State University Health Center provides health care services for Pocatello area students and their spouses, along with ISU faculty and staff, with no charge for office visits for students. For the ISU community in Meridian, Unity Health Center is nearby and available, also with free office visits for students. The same is the case for Sterling Health, which provides health care services for students, faculty and staff in the Idaho Falls area. These facilities and other health care providers in all three of these communities, including ISU partner Health West, Inc., welcome patients who utilize Medicaid as their primary insurance coverage, as well as other types of insurance, along with those who have no insurance coverage.
Health West, Inc., a community health center serving Bannock, Power, Franklin and Bingham counties says there are close to 7,000 people in their service area who are now eligible for Medicaid, with around 4,000 in Bannock County.
Similarly to the ISU Health Center, many of the newly eligible individuals under Medicaid expansion are already patients at Health West. In preparation for an increased number of Medicaid patients, Health West CEO Mindy Benedetti said they are expanding medical, dental and behavioral health services at Health West as well. Health West is also a Healthy Connections provider.
“We have been able to offer these services and referral services through our valued partnership with Idaho State University (ISU Family Residency, ISU Dental Residency, ISU Health Center, Pharmacy Services, Psychology Services, etc.) and other strong community provider relationships. We value our partnership with Idaho State University and other key medical partners on efforts to try to assist students and our community with their health care needs,” Benedetti said.
Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral high research activity university and teaching institution founded in 1901, attracts students from around the world to its Idaho campuses. At the main campus in Pocatello, and at locations in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, ISU has nine Colleges, a Graduate School and a Division of Health Sciences that together offer more than 250 certificate and degree programs. More than 12,000 students attend ISU. Idaho State University is the state's designated lead institution in health professions.