More than health care: WellCare provides non-medical benefits to members

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Jarrod Roberts, community engagement partner for WellCare, which is a major health care provider in the region, outside their office in Building C at The Springs Health Centre.

WellCare provides Medicaid health insurance coverage to more than 26,000 residents in Daviess, Hancock, McLean, Muhlenberg and Ohio counties.

Yet many of them may not know of several non-medical benefits the company provides its members.

Jarrod Roberts, WellCare's local community engagement partner, recently visited with officials at Owensboro Community & Technical College, the Homeless Council of the Ohio Valley and other agencies to help spread the word about those benefits.

For example, WellCare Works is a new online platform for members that provides employment resources. By answering questions online, members can build resumes and cover letters.

Also, WellCare Works helps with job searches and interview preparation. The program provides 24-hour access to a certified career coach.

Roberts said 1,200 members statewide have used the new program to date.

To access WellCare Works, members should log on to the member portal at www.wellcare.com/Kentucky and register. The WellCare Works link is on the right side of the screen.

For help with the WellCare Works website, members can call 1-800-705-6178 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Why is WellCare providing non-medical perks to members?

"We understand that much of what affects someone's health happens outside the doctor's office," Roberts said.

Employment, housing, food and clothing are key components to good health. Those social determinants of health dictate overall well-being, he said.

When basic needs are met, members, insurance providers, health care agencies and the community at large benefit.

WellCare launched the WellCare Works program earlier this year. However, it went into full swing during the summer.

About 30 clients at Owensboro Regional Recovery have used it to create resumes and cover letters, said Hailey Hidenrite, ORR outreach and development coordinator.

"We have had clients who have never created a resume before in their lives who used the step-by-step program to build their first-ever resumes," Hidenrite said. "This is a wonderful tool that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the resources that WellCare offers to its clients. ... It's a great tool, and we love it."

To help its members become more employable, WellCare also provides free GED preparation and testing.

In addition, the health care giant pays the $120 fee for its members when they take the GED. It's another way the company removes barriers and provides a path to a better life, Roberts said.

On the medical side, members may not be aware of WellCare's Healthy Rewards Program. It's the company's way of rewarding them for taking preventive health measures.

First, the company pays for annual health care screenings and checkups, including eye exams for members ages 18 to 75 who have diabetes.

Then, members receive debit or gift cards for updating their personal information annually ($10), annual exams with primary care providers ($25), well-child visits (up to $60) and annual mammograms ($25), to name a few.

In its health pregnancy program, women earn money for prenatal and postpartum visits. They also can receive their choice of a stroller, portable playpen, car seat or six packs of diapers for prenatal visits.

Another WellCare program provides members with up to $10 in over-the-counter items per month per household. The list of more than 200 items includes everything from tampons to vitamins to toothbrushes and sunblock.

Not only are those items free to the member, they are shipped to members' homes.

"Make sure to order your items each month," the WellCare catalog states. "If you do not, you will lose your $10 allowance for that month. It will not carry over to the next month."

The program provides a $10 monthly benefit, regardless of the number of members who live in a household.

Using a computer or smart phone, WellCare members can log on to the company's website at www.wellcare.com/Kentucky and click on Over-the-Counter Items to see the list of items offered. Or members may call 1-877-389-9457 and ask for a catalog to be mailed to their homes.

The company also offers WellCare Community Connections. The helpline is open to the public.

By calling 1-866-775-2192, any resident of the U.S. can be referred to a wide range of social services in their area, including medication assistance, housing, transportation, support groups and more.

Roberts said more than 10,000 people nationwide used the service last year.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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