Guillaume Parmelee living with diabetes for 20 years. For the past five years he has used insulin to control his condition. When her doctor recently prescribed her a new form of medication, Parmelee wasn’t quite sure how to afford it.
He had Medicare which covered most of the cost of the previous prescription. However, the cost of this new insulin exceeded what these programs would pay.
The Parmelee doctors referred him to Christie Cannell, Access to Care’s Prescription Assistance Case Manager with their Med Access team, here at Memorial. The staff there had previously worked together to help Parmelee and his wife apply for a Medicare savings plan covering Medicare Part B premiums and helping with certain fees and deductibles. Now staff have found her a plan to fund her insulin based on her age and income.
“I have never met someone so efficient” says Parmelée, a resident of Sweden, Maine. “Thank God for someone who can help.”
For more than 20 years, MaineHealth’s Access to Care Team has worked with patients like William to help find resources to fund health care and prescription drugs, and to identify community services that can help the patient.
Melissa BartlettMedical Outreach Case Manager, who oversees the coverage team program at Memorial, says her team’s efforts go a long way in helping individuals navigate an often confusing system of private and public payers.
“We don’t want people to avoid care because they think they aren’t covered by insurance or are worried about their ability to pay for care.”
“Avoiding care,” she adds, “often ends in a trip to the emergency department where the costs of care are much higher than a trip to the primary care office.”
MaineHealth’s Access to Care Program connects the most vulnerable populations in our community to affordable health insurance and free, low-cost health care and medications. In 2021, the program helped nearly 24,000 people with tasks such as finding care resources, submitting Medicaid and Affordable Care Act claims, and receiving prescription drug assistance.
“Access to care has had a profound impact on the health of our community,” says President Art Mathisen Memorial and reflects our vision to work together to make our communities the healthiest in America.
Patients who could benefit from access to care programs are often identified during a visit to the emergency room. Primary care providers also frequently refer patients, especially those facing an expensive procedure, medication, or life circumstances such as food insecurity that compromise the patient’s well-being. Other local doctors and health care offices refer patients who need help to find help.
In 2021, Memorial’s Care Access Team helped nearly 2,000 people in New Hampshire and Maine through their various programs, worked with more than 225 residents to complete requests for assistance on prescription totaling $2.5 million and guided over 500 people through the Medicaid or Affordable Care Act application. process.
Access to care programs include MedAccess, CarePartners, Coverage Team, Complex Coverage Group, Homeless HealthPartnersand the Patient Helpline. These programs connect uninsured and underinsured patients to free and affordable health care, free and reduced-cost medications, and access to the necessities of life such as food, transportation, childcare children and housing.
At Memorial Hospital, the MaineHealth Access to Care program continues our longstanding local efforts to ensure that patients can receive the care and services needed to maintain or regain their health.
“Our old programs, which were called the Patient Finance Advocate and the Medicines Bridge, live on in new guises as Memorial’s partners with colleagues in the MaineHealth system,” Bartlett says.
“MaineHealth programs have evolved and expanded significantly over the past 20 years to support individuals in our communities,” said Carol Zechman, MSW, LCSW, the Senior Director of Access to Care. “However, our goal has remained the same: to identify and address the underlying web of social, physical and financial needs faced by many individuals navigating our current healthcare system.”
nurse practitioner Jennifer Golkowski says she frequently sees patients who are nervous about paying for their medications. “I have this conversation every day.” The cost of medications, she says, is often a top concern for patients. “If they need financial help, I’m confident my patient will be able to get the medications they need.”
Golkowski also recognizes the knowledge and dedication of the Care Access Team. Memorial Chief Financial Officer Diana McLaughlin agrees, noting that Bartlett and Cannell “provide compassionate assistance to those who are uninsured or underinsured, improving the lives of thousands of our friends, neighbors and family members.”
“Because of their work, our communities are a better and healthier place to live.”
For more information, visit mainehealth.org/healthy-communities/access-to-care or call 833-644-3571.
About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a 25-bed, non-profit critical access hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is part of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health and wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birthing center , oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women’s health, podiatry, orthopedics, and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House Nursing Home, which provides aged care services in a comfortable, homelike setting. For more information, visit www.memorialhospitalnh.org or call 603-356-5461.