Improving Access, Lowering Costs
Because people with health insurance coverage tend to receive more regular primary care services, MetroHealth anticipates that in the long run, the RV will help improve the health of the community, reduce ED usage, and lower the overall cost of providing care, Richmond says.
"By making it more convenient and offering to help individuals through the enrollment process that wouldn't otherwise have coverage, we hope they will seek care on a more regular basis," he says. "Ongoing, regular healthcare is less expensive for a healthcare system to provide than emergency care, and it adds to better long-term health of the patient."
Although Richmond acknowledges that people who receive help from the RV staff to gain insurance may not come to MetroHealth for care, he still sees the program as important to the goal of improving population health throughout the region.
"By having this enrollment outreach program and helping residents with enrollment, it doesn't necessarily mean that patients will seek care at MetroHealth, but it goes back to leading the way to a healthier community," he says.
Small Investment with Big Payoff
Richmond says the start-up cost for the program was small, as are the ongoing operational expenses.
"The investment was nominal. The RV was a vehicle that we currently owned, and we are just now using it in a broader capacity in going out and servicing our community. I would say we saw greater potential for its use… We want to go out into our community and make enrollment easier," he says. "The enrollment RV will be staffed by existing financial counselors, and we will use existing resources in order to operate it."