The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is being urged not only to expand its hospital services but to promote them among islanders so it could capture the revenue it loses from patients who continue to seek medical checkups off-island.
According to Staywell Insurance general manager on Saipan Eric Plinske, the federal Affordable Care Act offers great opportunities for the Commonwealth Health Center that will boost its much-needed revenues.
Plinske said the new healthcare law requires preventive health services, which refer to the annual exams of patients that are fully paid for by private insurance companies.
“To be honest, most or all of our clients want to get their annual exam off-island…because they don’t want to do it here. And you guys can make money out of that 100 percent that we insurance companies pay for these patients,” Plinske told the corporation board at a recent meeting.
With a checklist of the types of exams and tests conducted by private clinics off-island, Plinske is convinced that CHC—with the right motivation—can also offer and make available similar tests.
He admitted that many patients have some “trust issues” with the capability of the public hospital, which is also grappling with an “image problem.”
But once the hospital shows readiness to offer these services, “we can convince the population to take it here…and that will translate to a big revenue stream for CHC,” Plinske said.
CHCC board chair Joaquin Torres said this issue “is not lost to the members and we may be addressing it soon. Our current priority is to focus our attention and resources on the CMS conditions of participation, and once we are cleared by CMS, we need to ensure we maintain certification, and continue to have a sustainable operation.”