Tenn. healthcare marketplace offering free phones to those who sign up for insurance plans

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 3, 2013

The cooperative in Tennessee running the state’s Obamacare exchange program, Community Health Alliance, is using an interesting gimmick to get Tennesseans to sign up: Health insurance in exchange for a smart phone.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, the Community Health Alliance has decided to offer qualified individuals a LG Lucid 2 4G smart phone (or equivalent model) a phone plan with unlimited minutes and texting and 1.2GB of data, and tech support simply for signing up for the government’s healthcare benefits. The CHA is billing the program as a way “to make it easier for providers and patients to stay connected,” however, as the Business Journal notes, it will help the organization keep track of its members – especially those who are new to the health insurance market.

The organization is selling individual insurance through the state’s healthcare marketplace in five of the state’s eight regions. It was given a $73 million loan by the federal government to run the program.

“Members will have the phone number for their CHA representative pre-loaded in their phones and can quickly get answers to questions about their policies,” CHA Chief Operating Officer Judy Slagle in a news release, according to the Business Journal. ”At the same time, we will be able to connect with our members by phone, by email or by text almost instantly with health tips and reminders.”

In order to remain eligible for a smart phone, individuals must pay the first month’s premium and then select a primary care physician from CHA’s network within three months of their coverage start date. The members must also sign and submit their Community Health Connection agreement and “pledge to stay connected for better health” within 90 days. After those requirements are met, the phone, which comes preloaded with health apps, contact information for a CHA representative, and phone numbers for primary care doctors and after-hours clinics, will be shipped to members. Members must also create a member profile on the organization’s website and visit their PCP within 180 days of their coverage start date.

“Members must act on their pledge,”  Jerry Burgess, Community Health Alliance president and CEO, said in a news release, according to the Business Journal. “They have 180 days to see their doctor. For people who haven’t had health insurance, this is a critical step. They will be able to work with their doctor to make a plan to improve their health.”

h/t Nashville Business Journal

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