Medicaid looks at self insurance program

Medicaid is looking at implementing a self insurance program for the territory that would cover all residents.

According to American Samoa’s Medicaid Director Sandra King Young this being looked out because “come January 1st, we will not have any federal funding to cover the Off Island Medical Referral Program to NZ and all other services.”

She said, “If people want to continue to receive those services, they can choose to pay premiums for a Medicaid self-insurance plan.”

The plan is a contingency in case Congress does not pass the territories bill which would permanently extend the 100% local match waiver for Medicaid.

King Young pointed out that now that people have experienced the health care in NZ, “everyone wants to go there. The question is, are they prepared and willing to pay premiums.”

One of the NZ contractors for the Medical Referral Program is also trying to propose to ASG and to the American Samoa Power Authority to let them do the self-insurance.

“The challenge with that is as a private insurance broker, it will end up being just like the TakeCare Guam plan ASPA had, when bills rack up they will increase premiums,” said King-Young.

It’s her opinion that it’s better for ASG to do its own self-insurance through Medicaid.

Her reasoning is that if we do have federal dollars, we can use our contributions as local match.

The Medicaid Director envisions using existing providers in New Zealand to continue their services for the Off Island Referral Program but with more rigorous screening–especially if there is no federal share.

“Medicaid designed the specifics on American Samoa’s referral program to NZ “so we know how to run it. No other Pacific Island provides this type of comprehensive coverage the way we do it,” she emphasized.