New program at Volunteer Services helps the uninsured
During National Cover the Uninsured Week (April 23-29), Volunteer Services of Carlton County announces a new program that assists those who have no health insurance. Studies indicate that over 2,500 people in Carlton County are uninsured. What ma...
During National Cover the Uninsured Week (April 23-29), Volunteer Services of Carlton County announces a new program that assists those who have no health insurance. Studies indicate that over 2,500 people in Carlton County are uninsured. What many do not know is that about one-third of the uninsured are eligible for some type of public health coverage program.
To address this issue, Volunteer Services has implemented a program to screen people to determine if they may be eligible for an existing public health coverage program and if they are eligible, can help with the application process. A specialized software program has been secured to assist in completing health care applications.
"There are many public health coverage programs available, such as MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance, and federal disability programs. People do not always know about them or how or where to go to apply," said Terri Allen, Carlton County Public Health supervisor. The eligibility criteria, especially for children and pregnant women, are quite generous for Minnesota sponsored health programs.
Volunteer Services has partnered with Generations Health Care Initiatives, a Duluth-based health foundation, and its Twin Ports Health Care Access Program to get people in the area enrolled in health coverage programs. Generations secured federal grant funding to design a software program that includes eligibility criteria for over 30 federal, state (Minnesota and Wisconsin) and local coverage programs. With staff assistance, the software can quickly screen an individual or household to determine if they are potentially eligible for an existing coverage program. The software has another feature which allows for completing the application forms.
Volunteer Services staff and volunteers have been trained to both screen individuals and complete health care applications. Staff is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 879-9238. Appointments are recommended.
Several other organizations in Cloquet are also involved in this effort: Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, Community Memorial Hospital, Raiter Clinic and, most recently, the Carlton County Jail. All of these sites have staff trained to use the screening software. If a person is screened at one of the community sites and determined potentially eligible for a program, they can be referred to Volunteer Services for help with the application process.
"It is anticipated that this service will remove the financial barrier to obtaining health care by getting them on an insurance program," said Jill Hatfield, executive director of Volunteer Services. "We hope it will reduce the number of people who use the emergency room as their primary place for care, avoid medical crises, and improve the health of people in the area."
Volunteer Services of Carlton County also offers several other services such as transportation, chore services, respite care, homemaking, home health aide referral, forms assistance, frozen meal and grocery delivery. Their Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Faith in Action-Communities Called to Care program utilizes over 2,000 volunteers to meet the needs of non-profit organizations, seniors and disabled individuals in Carlton, Aitkin and St. Louis counties.