Are Medicaid Incentives a Good Idea?

The Federal Healthcare Reform bill includes a $100 million grant to reward Medicaid Recipients for Healthy Habits. While States have some flexibility in how to institute the programs, the programs must address one of the provided prevention goals: tobacco cessation, controlling or reducing weight, lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and diabetes prevention and management. In return, successful Medicaid recipients will receive some sort of financial incentive.

While it has been argued by many that a key to Healthcare Reform is preventative care, behavioral incentive programs have been largely untested in this demographic. This begs the question whether or not these incentive programs are the best use of the Federal Grant monies? If the Federal Government wants to encourage preventative care, would the $100 million not be better invested in the creation of community programs catered to these goals?

There is also little research on the long term effects of these programs. Does short term success lead to long term changes, or does Mr. Medicaid Recipient use the $25 gift card, he received for getting his blood sugar tested, to purchase a box of Doughnuts?

What is a known fact is Hospitals and Healthcare providers are struggling to deal with the burdens of uncompensated care and over utilization by the demographic that is eligible for Medicaid benefits. This $100 million grant could go a long way in reaching out to possible new Medicaid recipients, and in educating current recipients on the correct utilization of services provided. Why not solve a more pressing problem in the Medicaid system before we begin to use scarce funds for untested incentive programs?

7 comments Add your comment


June 12th, 2011
2:07 am

Overall, I am happy with my health insurance I found through “Penny Health Insurance” network. It is not perfect, but in today’s world what is? The health insurance plan has worked quite well for me and my family.


June 12th, 2011
7:03 am

i think all medical insurances should pay for preventative products and testing. i also think they should pay for 2 attempts to stop smoking (for the medication or patches for this). but to reward financially? no. how about- a person is given the chance to stop smoking-the preventative measures etc–if they dont use them or dont take care of themselves they are given less benefits? im a smoker and i know know how expensive all the smoking cessation tools are. it sometimes takes 2-5 times at seriously trying to stop before a person can stop. so im all for help with this. and there can be supposrt groups and classes to help people have better health habits-im all for that. i am not for peoplel being rewarded monetarily for taking care of themselves. they are being helped by getting free help to start with. there are many people who work at low paying jobs and cant afford insurance and do not qualify for medicade. how fair is it for these people to not get any help when the ones who dont work a lick and get medicade get paid to be healthy when they are already getting huge resources to get medical help?

Elizabeth Richards, healthcare attorney

June 14th, 2011
2:01 pm

djs_NC You make a very good point regarding the number of times it may take someone to overcome a negative health habit. That is definitely should be considered in any incentive program.


June 19th, 2011
5:19 pm

The country has gone too long with allowing Health Insurance Co.’s set the fees for reimbursement. The Insurance Co. is the 3rd person is a bad equation. Many reforms could and should be made to that system. Everyone knows the government can’t administer health issues efficiently or quickly. If Obummercare is so good why doesn’t Congress want to get on board?


June 19th, 2011
5:40 pm

Another $100 million of taxpayer dollars wasted!!!!

tar and feathers party

June 19th, 2011
6:37 pm

I have a great incentive to bring down health care cost: Eliminate contingency law suits! America has the highest cost health care on a per capita basis in the world, and is also the only country that allows contingency law suits for alleged malpractice. Get the stinking, useless lawyers out of health care, and I guarantee costs will go down.

Elizabeth Richards, healthcare attorney

June 20th, 2011
9:25 am

Tar and Feathers party I do agree with you that an important component of reform is Medical Malpractice Reform. The cost of defensive medicine is exorbitant. However, there are many lawyers who work day in and out in the healthcare system to assist providers. Without these lawyers, the system would be far worse off. In addition, egregious Medical Malpractice does still occur, and there must be some type of system to protect the innocent victims. Maybe this is material for another post!