January 8, 1999
UCSD Healthcare has announced the addition of a Medi-Cal benefits plan to UCSD Health Plan, a Knox-Keene-licensed health care service plan. The Health Plan is now one of seven managed care plans in San Diego county contracted with the California Department of Health Services (DHS) to provide health care to the county's more than 300,000 Medi-Cal recipients as part of the "Healthy San Diego Geographic Managed Care Project."
The goals of this project are to improve access, quality and health status for the eligible Medi-Cal population and make future costs more predictable.
Jayne Chaffin, MPH, UCSD Healthcare's Executive Director, Managed Care-Business Development, explained that in the near future the Medi-Cal program will shift to a mandatory enrollment process where patients will be required to choose one of the seven DHS-contracted health plans. Each patient also will be asked to select a primary care physician who will be responsible for coordinating the patient's health care.
However, patients will be permitted to change health plans and/or primary care physicians on an unlimited basis.
The program is designed to significantly reduce distinction between a Medi-Cal patient and one that is employer sponsored.
"Continuity of care is extremely important to the patient and the health care community," said Chaffin. "With the upcoming changes in the way the state administers Medi-Cal coverage, we decided we could better serve this population by establishing a health plan that ensures that the community has access to physicians they know and trust."
By enrolling in UCSD Health Plan, a Medi-Cal patient takes on many of the same characteristics as a commercial patient enrolled in a health plan. "Medi-Cal beneficiaries will be able to identify themselves as a `member of Plan X' rather than a Medi-Cal recipient," said Chaffin.
According to Nancy K. White, director of UCSD Health Plan, UCSD Health-care has long been a safety net provider for this population. "Our expanded UCSD Health Plan network will include more than 250 primary care physicians, 700 specialists, and 14 hospitals. Members also will have access to vision and pharmacy services through the plan," she said.
UCSD Health Plan has started enrolling Medi-Cal beneficiaries on a voluntary basis. Later this year, the Department of Health Services expects to begin the mandatory enrollment process that will require all Medi-Cal beneficiaries to join one of the seven contracted managed care plans.