Beebe Honored for Improving Access to Healthcare to the Uninsured
Beebe Medical Center and Lewes physician Charles A. Stanislav, MD, were honored Tuesday at the Delaware Covering Kids & Families Program Award Event for going "above and beyond" in making sure that Delawareans without health insurance receive healthcare services.
The Beebe Medical Center award was based on the work done by two Community Healthcare Access Program (CHAP) coordinators who are members of the Medical Center's Community Health Department. They assist uninsured Delaware residents who meet specific financial requirements to obtain preventive healthcare, as well as medical services at an affordable cost. CHAP bi-lingual coordinators Michelle Beckett-El Soloh and Evelyn Ramos last year helped more than 1,500 uninsured residents in the Medical Center's service area gain access to medical services. The award was also based on the recognized generosity of Beebe's financial assistance policies and the hospitals clear commitment to community service.
Delaware Lt. Governor John C. Carney, Jr., who chairs the Delaware Health Care Commission, and Kelly Eschbach, MD, President of the Medical Society of Delaware, presented the 2008 Awards. Mark Thompson, Director of Public Relations and Community Health, accepted the award on behalf of Beebe Medical Center.
"Beebe is a great partner in this effort," said Lt. Gov. Carney. "They do tremendous work."
"Delaware's uninsured rate has remained below the regional and national average, in part, because of the many people working hard to address this issue," Dr. Eschbach said. "Our goal is to educate people about coverage programs and health services that are available, and to enroll them in all for which they qualify."
The Medical Society of Delaware is the lead organization in the Delaware Covering Kids & Families Program, a grassroots initiative to enroll eligible Delawareans in health care coverage and service programs. At the 2008 Award Event, Mrs. Beckett-El Soloh read two letters written by Beebe Medical Center patients who were able to obtain medical treatment by after enrolling into the CHAP program.
"I honestly don't know what I would do without this help," one patient wrote. Mrs. Beckett-El Soloh read another that stated: "In this resort area most small businesses do not offer health benefits. My husband and I have been paying out-of-pocket for all medical and dental expenses for 20 years. After a debilitating hip fracture in 2006, I was able to enroll with Michelle's help into the CHAP and Beebe financial assistance programs...I can follow my primary care doctor's health care routine without the stress of a pile of medical bills and that by itself helps one to heal."
The Award event took place during the National Cover the Uninsured Week awareness campaign. Delaware joined hundreds of communities across the nation to spotlight the fact that 47 million Americans, including more than 8.3 million children, are without health care coverage. Delaware has one of the nation's lowest rates of uninsured at about 12.7% percent of the population, or 105,000 people; however, according to a 2006 study prepared for the Delaware Health Care Commission by the University of Delaware's Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research, that number contains more than 23,100 children, and the number also contains over 25,000 individuals who are presumed eligible for existing coverage programs yet who are not enrolled.
Delaware Covering Kids & Families has successfully enrolled at least three thousand individuals since its inception, but there is much more work to do, and fortunately there are an unprecedented number of partners and initiatives to assist in this endeavor. Partners like the Healthy Delawareans Today and Tomorrow Coalition, sponsored by AstraZeneca, and the Health Access America campaign, developed by the Healthcare Leadership Council, are integral to the continued efforts and success of the Delaware Covering Kids & Families Program- so too is the effort of many other organizations, physicians, and individuals some of whom are recognized for service excellence annually. The other 2008 awardees are: Christiana Care Health Services, Dr. Dorothy Moore, Reverend Robert Hall, and Ms. Cynthia Smith.
The number and gross percentage of the total population of Delaware's uninsured is increasing. Although the state is doing better than the nation and the region with these rates, the ability of Delawareans to become insured and maintain that insurance is becoming more difficult due to the rising cost of health insurance. The continuing rise in health care premiums affects both individuals and businesses that provide health care benefits to employees. For example, 68% of the uninsured in Delaware are working adults. Although working, many of these individuals meet federal poverty level guidelines and qualify for insurance programs. Eighty-three percent of the uninsured are above the federal poverty threshold. And young adults, ages 18 to 29, are more likely to be uninsured because they hold jobs that do not provide coverage and their income levels are generally low, making it difficult to purchase insurance on their own.
"Small businesses, those who are self-employed and individuals are the groups that have the toughest time keeping up with the rising cost of health insurance," said Lt. Gov. Carney. "We need to continue our work to find affordable alternatives so hard working people aren't forced to go without insurance."
In an effort to raise awareness that the problems of the uninsured affect all Delawareans, the Covering Kids & Families Program spotlights the fact that being uninsured means going without needed care. The Delaware Covering Kids & Families Program promotes insurance enrollment options and provides resource information throughout the year.
Paula Roy, director of the Delaware Health Care Commission, noted that being uninsured impacts the quality of health and the quality of life for all Delawareans.
"Our research shows that more than 37 percent of the uninsured in Delaware said they had to forego a visit with a doctor because of cost," Roy said. The Commission's research shows that uninsured Delawareans are six times more likely to forgo care based on cost than their insured counterparts. She added that Commission's research demonstrates that individuals with medical health homes are three times less likely to use costly emergency departments- a fact that has driven much the mission and priority of Commission activities and programs.
In Delaware, low-income families and children may be eligible for the Diamond State Health Plan, the state's Medicaid Managed Care program, or the Delaware Healthy Children Program, a low cost health insurance program for children of working families. Approximately 19,000 uninsured Delawareans are financially eligible for the Delaware Health Care Commission's Community Healthcare Access Program (CHAP), which connects those without insurance and medical health homes to physicians with the Medical Society's Voluntary Initiative Program (VIP) and community-based health centers all that provide volunteer and/or income-based care. Currently there are over 500 VIP physicians, five community health centers (including four federally qualified health centers), five community hospitals, and other health care providers in Delaware accepting CHAP patients.
To determine eligibility for any of the referenced programs or services, please call Beebe Medical Center CHAP coordinators Michelle Beckett-El Soloh at (302) 645-3167, or Evelyn Ramos at (302) 645-3168, or visit www.delawareuninsured.org online or call 1-800-996-9969 and select option 3.
Beebe Medical Center is a not-for-profit community medical center with a charitable mission to encourage healthy living, prevent illness, and restore optimal health with the people residing, working, or visiting in the communities we serve. For more information, please visit us online at www.beebemed.org