Proposal for Arizona's Medicaid plan includes smartphone apps

August 05, 2015

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey included mobile health in his proposal for the state's new Medicaid plan, but some critics think the initiative could miss the mark for a low-income population less likely to have smartphones. The Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System is a managed care system that operates on a waiver from the federal government which is set to expire next September, and Ducey is using that as an opportunity to make changes to the system. The changes include HSAs, strategic co-pays and wellness incentives for Medicaid enrollees. The plan also includes references to mobile health tools. The governor's office explains that Medicaid enrollees will be able to use an app to: look up their doctor or find an urgent care center, manage chronic illnesses or conduct own health screenings, receive text alerts for an appointment reminder or managing medication and manage their account online. A response in Modern Healthcare questions whether a smartphone-based approach to serving low income individuals makes sense, citing among other things the failure of a similar attempt by the state of Michigan. A report from the Pew Research Center showed that 50% of people making less than $30,000 a year have a smartphone - the lowest percentage of any income group. On the other hand, 13% of people making less than $30,000 a year are "smartphone dependent" - their smartphone is their only option for getting online - compared to 7% of Americans overall.