Seeking to improve care and lower costs, Florida this month became the first state to offer a Medicaid health plan designed exclusively for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar conditions.
The plan — offered by Avon, Conn.-based Magellan Complete Care — is part of a wave of state experimentation to coordinate physical and mental health care for those enrolled in Medicaid.
Mental illness is a big driver of Medicaid costs because it is twice as prevalent among beneficiaries of the public insurance program for the poor as it is among the general population. Studies show that enrollees with mental illness, who also have chronic physical conditions, account for a large share of Medicaid spending.
Yet many Medicaid programs, including Florida’s, have traditionally contracted with separate companies to provide coverage for mental health services, making coordination more difficult.
“We don’t want to have a situation where your brain is in one HMO, your teeth are in a second HMO and your eyes are in a third HMO,” said Florida Medicaid Director Justin Senior. “Your whole head should be in the same organization and that is why we have done this reorganization.”