BLOOMINGTON (AP) — From January through May of this year, the Volunteers in Medicine clinic has experienced about a 30 percent drop in its number of patient visits and dispensed prescriptions, compared with the same timeframe in 2013.
And its board and executive director could not be happier.
“VIM has been planning for the Affordable Care Act for many months because of the profound transformation that’s occurring in the health care environment and the unknown territory ahead,” Nancy Richman, the clinic’s executive director, told The Herald-Times. “With the ACA, VIM can actually help our patients become insured while we continue to care for those who can’t and those who are in the transition process.”
The reduction in client flow at VIM is somewhat predictable, because the health insurance plans of people who bought them on the Indiana marketplace during the six-month open enrollment period went into effect Jan. 1 of this year. During the enrollment period, 16 certified navigators with IU Health Bloomington’s Individual Solutions helped more than 3,600 people in the region apply for health insurance or benefits — including 1,842 who signed up for the Healthy Indiana Plan, 842 who bought health insurance plans on the marketplace, 541 who qualified for Medicaid and 376 who qualified for Hoosier Healthwise (a state health care program for children, pregnant women and low-income families).
Since opening in April 2007, the VIM clinic has been providing free primary and preventive health care to uninsured adults in Monroe and Owen counties living in households with annual incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It does not provide care to those who have health insurance coverage.
Richman said she’s heard that some people wonder if the VIM clinic might be trying to ignore the ACA so people can continue coming to the clinic. “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “We are working entirely on behalf of the ACA, because we think it’s a good thing for people living in poverty to have access to health insurance. That’s why we made a commitment many months ago to help our patients understand the ACA as well as their options, and to help them enroll.”