Implementation Matters: Lessons From Iowa Medicaid’s Healthy Behaviors Program

Iowa’s Medicaid expansion includes the Healthy Behaviors Program (HBP), which incentivizes enrollees to receive a wellness exam and complete a health risk assessment annually to waive a monthly premium. We conducted a telephone survey with enrollees to examine their awareness and understanding of the HBP, and we then merged the survey data with claims data to examine factors associated with the completion of program requirements. As found in previous research, awareness of the HBP remains low, with approximately half of respondents unaware of the program or the premium requirement. Our results suggest that four years after the program was implemented, requirements are not being effectively communicated to enrollees. When designing and implementing such programs, policy makers should note that they are unlikely to succeed without consideration of how the program is structured and promoted. Limited program awareness is likely to result in low participation and consequences related to paying premiums or being disenrolled.

Askelson, N., Wright, B., Brady, P. J., Jung, Y., Momany, E., McInroy, B., & Damiano, P. Implementation Matters: Lessons From Iowa Medicaid’s Healthy Behaviors Program. 39 5 884 - 891. 10.1377/hlthaff.2019.01302.