For families who have children with complex health care needs, coordinating all the appointments, medications, and therapies can be difficult. When an individual has several doctors and specialists that they regularly see, the help of a care coordinator can be invaluable. A care coordinator, or patient care coordinator, is a health professional employed by an MCO, or managed care organization, to oversee complex care cases. They can help with getting needed appointments, acquiring resources outside of prescriptions, ensuring that medications are easily available and do not have any interactions, and help families have better peace of mind that all of their medical practitioners are on the same page.
Care coordinators are available to many patients, but they are rarely given as an option to overtaxed patients or patients’ parents. Primary care physicians sometimes recommend a care coordinator to help a patient or family, but as they are not familiar with every aspect of a patient’s life and health care, they will often assume that a family does not need a care coordinator when they would be greatly aided by having one. For those with a strong connection to a primary provider, asking them to request a care coordinator for their healthcare can be an efficient way to start the process. While a primary care physician is often the one to initiate the assistance of a care coordinator, is possible for a patient or their family to request care coordination on their own.
The process for requesting a care coordinator is different through different health care systems. The majority of individuals on Medicaid, also known as Apple Health, have their healthcare covered by an MCO. Calling the MCO’s customer service line is often the first step in getting a care coordinator. The phone numbers of the five MCO’s that oversee apple health in Washington state are as follows: Amerigroup at 1-800-600-4441, Community Health Plan of Washington at 1-800-440-1561, Coordinated Care of Washington at 1-877-644-4613, Molina Healthcare of Washington at 1-800-869-7165, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan at 1-877-542-8997. If you are unsure which MCO is in charge of your healthcare, view our video on Who is in Charge of Your Apple Health Healthcare? If there are problems in getting through to your MCO, you can call the Health Care Authority, that oversees all Washington Medicaid MCOs, at 1-800-562-3022.