WINDSOR - Time will soon run out for recipient’s to make a selection for their Medicaid health plan.

The Bertie County Commissioners received an update from Bertie County Department of Social Services Director Cindy Perry about the upcoming Medicaid transformation.

There will be a new way to receive Medicaid health care. According to Perry, the program is expected to launch on May 15, and recipients will have until May 14 to select an option from various plans. If recipients do not select a plan before the deadline, a plan will be automatically selected for them.

Most recipients will receive the same Medicaid services through new health plans.

A health plan is a group of doctors, hospitals and other providers. They work together to provide health care services. Everything will come from the same plan. Each plan will provide the same physical health, behavioral health and medicine. It will just be offered by different providers with each having additional benefits.

North Carolina Medicaid Direct is the state’s current health care program for Medicaid members. It will continue to provide the same services including developmental disability, behavioral health, traumatic brain injury and substance use disorder services for members who need special services.

Medicaid eligibility rules and processes are not changing. After enrollment, the selected health plan will send information and a new identification card.

“Bertie County has 4,361 eligible recipients, but as of the last count only 77 people have enrolled. This means only 2.22 percent have signed up, and the deadline is fast approaching,” said Perry.

According to Perry each recipient was mailed an information packet describing each of the plans available, and Bertie County Department of Social Services has held two registration events.

There is another event May 11 at the social services building.

“Everyone needs to understand that if they do not select a plan by May 14, then a plan will be selected for them. If the plan does not meet their needs or their doctor is not in the network, then they will have to wait 90 days to change the plan,” she added.

“We have had much success with getting information to the public using the county’s robocall program. If you or someone else would like to talk we could send out a call for the last event,” said Bertie County Commission Chair Tammy Lee.

“I know how important the Medicaid transition is to the citizens. It is concerning to me that not many people are signing up. Everyone needs to understand what they may lose if they do not sign up for their own plan and one is selected for them,” Commissioner Ron Wesson added.

“Have you made contact with pastors throughout the county to help spread the word?” asked Lee. “We have also had great success getting information out to citizens through the pastors.”

“I have not thought about that. I will work on a letter to share with our local pastors,” replied Perry.

“Do we have the resources to make direct calls to each of the recipients?” asked Wesson.

“For the department that would mean approximately 3,400 calls. I would have to contact the state for the names of the recipients because we do not receive the names. We only receive the numbers,” Perry answered.

To sign up for a new managed care plan, recipients must first choose a primary care provider. Health care plans work with different primary care providers. Recipients should first find out which health care plan is accepted by their providers.

There are three ways to find out which plan is accepted by a specific provider: ask the primary care provider, find a list of doctors for each health care plan at www.ncmedicaidplans.gov or call 1-833-870-5500.

Next, recipients will need to select a health care plan that best fits their individual needs, and their primary care provider accepts.

There are several ways to enroll in the program: visit www.ncmedicaidplans.gov, use the NC Medicaid Managed Care mobile app, call 1-833-870-5500 or fill out the enrollment form and mail it.

According to Perry, there is also an event scheduled in early May with Bertie County Schools to help reach more families throughout the county. She also wants to remind recipients this change is for Medicaid only, and not Medicare.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached at bertienews@ncweeklies.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.