Rewards previously were limited to those 18 and older
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For Ohio Medicaid members, any back-to-school preparation should start at a pharmacy, doctor’s office or community event where free COVID-19 vaccines are available. A $100 gift-card incentive for vaccination, previously offered only to adults, now includes children ages 12 to 17. That means every Medicaid Managed Care member old enough to be vaccinated also qualifies for the incentive.
The incentive is being expanded as children return to classrooms and COVID-19 cases rise dramatically in Ohio and nationwide, with the Delta variant becoming the dominant strain identified in new cases. Delta also appears more highly transmissible than previous variants and more likely to infect younger adults and children.
“Getting students 12 and up vaccinated will provide peace of mind to parents, caregivers and educators,” said Kelly O’Reilly, president and chief executive officer of the Ohio Association of Health Plans. “Vaccination is the surest way to protect teens against COVID-19.”
Working together, Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care plans — Aetna, Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Molina Healthcare, Paramount Advantage and UnitedHealthcare — have made
finding and getting the vaccine easier than ever with Vax on the Spot (www.covidvaxonthespot.com), a website with information on community vaccine events and walk-in opportunities at pharmacies. The site also gives details on how members can get the $100 incentive. In some locations, including many pharmacies and Federally Qualified Health Centers, gift cards are available on-site.
The campaign and the incentive are working. Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran announced recently that the number of Medicaid members getting their first dose rose by 49% in the first week of August compared with the week before.
Since Gov. Mike DeWine challenged the Medicaid Managed Care plans in June to do more to encourage vaccination, Ohio has seen a 57% increase in the number of Medicaid members who have completed vaccination. As of Aug. 8, the number that had received at least one shot was more than 800,000.
Medicaid vaccine gift cards will continue to be available to eligible Ohioans through Dec. 31, 2021.
According to the health plans’ medical directors, shrinking the population of unvaccinated people is the most important front in the battle to contain the pandemic. So far, available vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing people from contracting COVID-19 and even more effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, even among Delta cases. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost everyone — 97% — who contracts a COVID-19 case serious enough to require hospitalization is unvaccinated.
For more on Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Organizations, visit https://medicaid.oahp.org/.