Is It Fair to Reward Medicaid Patients for Doing What They’re Supposed to Do?

Most conservatives agree that Medicaid costs are too high. Most liberals agree that Medicaid patients should receive necessary medical care for free. And both conservatives and liberals agree that we should embrace ways to encourage Medicaid patients to obtain important preventive care services, in hopes that such services will lower healthcare costs by promoting public health.

But does anyone agree with the idea of paying Medicaid patients to receive such services?

The state of South Carolina has created an incentive program to encourage Medicaid recipients to receive preventive medical care . Show up for an annual exam, and Medicaid patients not only receive the visits for free, but even get $25 a pop for making it to the appointments. Receive mammograms, and they get another $20 per test. Get a flu shot, and they can say hello to an Alexander Hamilton, whose visage adorns the $10 bill.

Here is a table from Kaiser Health News showing what South Carolina plans to offer Medicaid enrollees, depending on which services they receive. There aren’t any huge rewards here, but when you think about the large number of people who are eligible for Medicaid in South Carolina, the cost of these rewards could be substantial:

Is It Fair to Reward Medicaid Patients for Doing What They're Supposed to Do

When I first learned of this reward program, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my teenage son. He had underperformed in school, obtaining grades incommensurate with his ability. I was expressing my disappointment with his lack of effort, but he had a rejoinder: “Dad, you should be rewarding me, for not doing drugs, or drinking and driving like all my friends.”

(To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

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