MCS has invested $60 million to improve members’ chronic conditions in 2020
Over 121,000 members benefit from its Te Paga card – the Original
SAN JUAN — Medical Card System Inc. (MCS), a leading company in Puerto Rico’s healthcare industry, announced Wednesday that, including the MCS Classicare Te Paga Card – The Original’s $16 million refill corresponding to the last quarter of 2020, effective Oct. 1, approximately $60 million was invested over the year to help improve the social determinants that affect the chronic conditions of more than 121,000 of its members.
MCS said its initiative reflects its ongoing commitment to the health of the elderly population, “as well as the island’s financial health, given the entire structure behind the MCS Classicare Te Paga Card – the Original has an enormous” economic impact.
A year after its launch, the Te Paga Card – the Original has proven to be a special supplemental benefit that has made a difference in the lives of more than 121,000 people with chronic conditions, “thus disproving” what “competitors tried to insinuate,” the company said.
With the benefit, which is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), MCS Classicare (HMO) promotes the purchase of healthy food at participating establishments on the island, where more than 42 percent of the population has one or more risk factors for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. The card may also be used to pay for water, electricity and phone bills, and “represents a relief to the pockets of 40 percent of the population age 60 or older living under the poverty level, according to the 2015 Census,” MCS said in a news release.
To carry out its multimillion-dollar effort, MCS formed a multisectoral alliance with the food, banking and telecommunications industries, as well as with other retailers.
“These strategic alliances with Banco Popular, mobile phone company Claro, and the island’s principal supermarkets have constituted an unprecedented effort in Puerto Rico. At this historic time throughout the island, these alliances and investments are further evidence of our genuine commitment to continuing to improve our members’ healthcare experience. This, without losing perspective on the enormous secondary effect it has for the island’s economy,” said Roberto Torres, chief operations officer at MCS. The executive added that the company will continue expanding its service provider network as part of its mission to assist in improving the health and quality of life of members with chronic conditions.
MCS pointed out that, according to a recent Public Opinion Study on How Citizens Feel, conducted by the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, 88 percent of those surveyed said the money they received from the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym) after the pandemic was not sufficient to afford their food.
“Given this situation in the midst of the pandemic, the Te Paga Card – the Original, represents a relief from the emotional burden of everyday financial problems, which in the long run affects one’s physical health,” the company said.
“The current medical literature shows that these social and economic factors are essential in promoting a human being’s overall physical and mental health. Often, one’s health is affected because the person does not have enough financial resources, and decides to pay his or her bills instead of getting the medications or healthy food needed to control that individual’s conditions. Therefore, so that money is not an obstacle to proper health care, we at MCS had the vision to be the first in the industry to create the Te Paga benefit to address those social determinants that influence both the health and quality of life for our elderly,” explained Dr. Inés Hernández, chief medical officer at MCS.
The quarterly amount assigned to the card depends on the product to which the member belongs, and cannot be converted into cash.
“Caring for the health and total well-being of our members also includes protecting them from abuse and mistreatment during difficult times,” Dr. Hernández said. The executive argued that financial exploitation is the second most common form of abuse addressed by the Puerto Rico Elderly Advocate’s Office. “To prevent third parties from taking ownership of this benefit and protecting our members from this kind of abuse, we do not allow cash to be withdrawn from the card,” she added.
The card’s available balance can only be verified by calling the MCS Service Centers or at ATMs in Banco Popular’s network.
MCS Classicare covers generic and brand-name drugs, and its medical coverage includes a network of hospitals, specialists, pharmacies and laboratories.
“This unique combination of special supplemental benefits, together with our improved medical coverage and supplemental benefits such as eyeglasses, Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs, transportation to non-medical destinations, and the Club Te Paga activities program, gives our MCS Classicare members, their caregivers and primary physicians a wide range of tools to help address all healthcare needs. That way, we’re working as a team to ensure all our members enjoy optimal health,” Torres said.