VisionAware's Provider of the Month: Medical Mutual, A Health Insurance Company That Goes Above and Beyond for Members with Disabilities

Date Posted: 05/11/2017

Editor's note: In keeping with Older Americans Month, VisionAware is highlighting programs that provide "extra" assistance to older people with vision loss. Read about how Medical Mutual is meeting new rules related to accessibility with health programs while "going the extra mile" in providing needed services.

It all started with a phone call. Last year, a visually-impaired woman contacted Medical Mutual to ask if she could get a copy of her Evidence of Coverage book in braille. That’s when the health insurance company’s Quality Care Navigation department jumped into action.

Medical Mutual Quality Care Navigation department From left to right Erica Hufgard, Amanda Renta, Suzanne Turner and Kimberly Howard

Caption: Medical Mutual’s Quality Care Navigation department; From left to right: Erica Hufgard, Amanda Renta, Suzanne Turner, and Kimberly Howard

The team quickly found a local source—the Cleveland Sight Center—to help get her exactly what she needed. "After receiving that call, we wanted to help her as quickly as we could," explained Suzanne Turner, a Quality Care Navigator at Medical Mutual. "We also figured there must be other members who need additional help, so we took it upon ourselves to find out and see what we could do."

Note: A Quality Care Navigator works with a cross disciplinary team to provide outreach services to Medicare and Affordable Care Act enrollees, providing assistance with navigation of health care services and community resources, benefits optimization, peer support, and other relevant services. The Quality Care Navigator helps to identify social, cultural, and demographic barriers to achieving health outcomes, maximizing self-management, and promoting wellness.

Assessment of Accommodation Needs of Members with Disabilities

The team began laying the groundwork by identifying members with special needs and generating ideas for developing ways to better serve those with vision impairment. The team created an assessment for members to provide feedback on their preferred accommodations.

Types of Accommodations Offered

That assessment, combined with the team’s dedication, resulted in a formal partnership with the Cleveland Sight Center to make a variety of documents available in several formats. Members can now receive their Evidence of Coverage books, provider directories, Explanations of Benefits (EOBs), and more in braille, large print, email, audio, and on CD. American Sign Language interpreters can be provided to translate difficult or confusing information. Member ID cards can be printed in large type. Company representatives will even call members to read documents over the phone. "We want to do what we can do to help members understand their insurance policies, so they can get the care they need," said Turner.

Reading Information on Prescription Bottles

Reading information on prescription bottles is also a challenge for visually impaired members. Medical Mutual partnered with Express Scripts to provide members with a ScripTalk machine, a device that will read everything on pill bottle labels. It’s sent free of charge to members as long as they have Express Scripts for their prescription drug coverage.

Help with Other Needed Services

In addition to making accommodations to help members understand their insurance and prescription information, Medical Mutual found that some members need help finding transportation. Some need to find a cane, talking device or blind rehabilitation services. Some just want to know how they can get access to braille or audiobooks. "Anything that members need to help them live as independently as they can, we try to provide," said Turner.

Program Expected to Expand as Older Population Grows

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that health insurance companies make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Medical Mutual serves its members by working with them individually to identify, review and meet their needs in a holistic manner. This program has been in place for just over a year and is expected to grow as baby boomers age and more and more members of all ages with needs are identified.

"It means a lot to people with disabilities to stay informed, educated, and on equal footing with our non-disabled members," said Turner. "Our team is glad to help them in any way we can."

More Information About Medical Mutual's Accommodations Efforts

If you’d like more information about Medical Mutual and the company’s accommodations for people who are visually impaired, please call Suzanne Turner at 216-687-6538. Medical Mutual serves people in the state of Ohio.

Editor's Note on Health Care Rules

Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations reinforcing and building upon the longstanding disability nondiscrimination requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws. Under these important regulations that apply to much of America's health care service delivery infrastructure, physical accessibility to medical facilities, as well as access to digital and other forms of information and technology, must be provided to patients and their family members with disabilities.

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.