New Aids Insurance Plan May Save Michigan Millions

Article excerpt

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan hopes to save millions of dollars with a new program designed to keep AIDS victims off the Medicaid rolls by paying their private insurance premiums.

The two-year pilot program, given final legislative approval earlier this month, is already being discussed by other states and likely will be copied if it proves successful, said Michigan Rep. David Hollister.

``The program is aimed at someone who has a job, has insurance, and at some point they lose their job because of their illness,'' said Hollister, who got the idea for the program while attending a workshop of the National Academy of Science on insurance companies and AIDS.

``They can continue their insurance for up to 18 months at their own expense after they lose their job, but most people don't have 18 months of reserves to pay that,'' he said. ``So at a certain point they're going to lose their insurance, and at that point they become impoverished and we pay it out of Medicaid.''

The cost of treating a person with acquired immune deficiency syndrome in Michigan is about $1,600 a month. The state share of Medicaid expenditures usually is about 45 percent, or $724.

Insurance premiums vary with different policies; the average cost of a health plan offered to state employees is about $135 a month.

If an AIDS patient becomes too sick to work and continue paying insurance premiums, Medicaid could save about $1,465 a month per person by paying the private insurance premium.

The state predicts:

- About 180 people will participate in the program this year, saving the state about $323,000.

- 370 in 1990, saving $2.6 million.

- 580 in 1992, saving $4.1 million.

It is scheduled to start Oct. 1 as a three-county experiment in the metropolitan Detroit counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb, which are home to about 70 percent of the state's AIDS-infected population.

``The trickiest part is to make sure the state only pays the premiums for the people who would have become Medicaid eligible,'' said Scott Merwin, a senior analyst with the Department of Social Service's Medicaid division, who wrote the proposal with Hollister. …