Your Medi-Cal patients can get $20 for trying to stop smoking

Getting our smoking patients to put down their cigarettes (aka coffin nails) can be difficult. Sorry, I know this sounds like I’m preaching to the choir. Medi-Cal patients smoke at a higher rate – 31% – than patients with other insurance – 22%. They even smoke at a higher rate than people with no insurance, 30% of whom inhale. There are many reasons why this is the case, but we will defer speculation on that issue to another day.

It is also notable that Medi-Cal patients receive less smoking cessation counseling than patients with other insurance. There are many reasons why this is the case, but the clinicians in Partnership’s network are now in a position to change that particular problem.  Under a new program just announced by the Feds, a $20 incentive is now available to Medi-Cal patients who want to stop smoking. It is easy to qualify for this payment. Patients just need to call the state smoking hotline phone (easy to remember – 1-800-NO BUTTS), identify themselves as a Medi-Cal member, give their MediCal number, and complete the first counseling session. Voila! A $20 gift card shows up in the mail.

You should be aware that this incentive program is temporary (“while supplies last”), so encourage potential enrollees to sign up soon. The Feds say they will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this program at some point, to see whether the expense pays off in reduced smoking.

If you click this link –  http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101376221324-212/MIQS+Patient+Flyer+-+English+5-24-12.pdf – you can find an easy-to-print flyer to give your patients which explains the program.

In this era where obstacles abound when encouraging our patients to take good care of themselves, this incentive program may be just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes one small step like this can be all a person needs to finally make a move.

Richard Fleming, MD

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