Strategic Innovation


It's time to expand our model.

For over 20 years Access Health has been providing robust health coverage to people living in West Michigan. We serve people who struggle every day to make ends meet and cannot afford to access care through traditional. Our approach is clearly – very different. And, it works. Beyond that, we’ve been proving that it works for twenty years.

Our years of experience demonstrate that sometimes we just need to think differently to get people the resources and support that they need to live healthy and vibrant lives. While others debate the future of health care, we have successfully created and sustained a robust health coverage product. Our product doesn’t just address health – it supports low wage families by helping them stabilize their monthly expenses. Our vision is greater than health. We help people live their best lives.

Cost matters. Access to care doesn’t just mean having health coverage. True access means being able to afford that coverage, and being able to pay the deductible, copays and coinsurance – which can be hefty in the traditional model. We don’t just talk about affordability; we make it happen. Our model recognizes that people we serve carry a burden of financial insecurity. Our goal is help reduce this burden and help them achieve greater self-sufficiency. We are committed to helping individuals escape the cycle of poverty.

To date, we have served over 60,000 West Michigan residents. From day one, we took the time to look seriously at the factors that influenced their lives and health – now called Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). That experience, coupled with our health coverage program, has demonstrated the importance of aligning and integrating safety-net resources directly into health delivery.

As commercial coverage costs continue to skyrocket and nationally the number of uninsured people grows, it’s time to tell our story. We know how to do this. We know what works. It’s time to expand our model.

Our Model

The Access Health model was unveiled in 1999. Access Health aligns local medical and community resources to create a unique one-of-a kind health coverage product that people can not only afford but, can afford to use! The coverage intentionally targets low income working individuals (ALICE: Asset Limited; Income Constrained; Employed). Because we have also managed local Medicaid populations, we fully understand the challenge of affordability and the stress of income insecurity. We’ve created workable and affordable solutions. We have accomplished this through two primary coverage strategies:

  • Connector.

    Multishare Coverage Program

    C3 Health was the first in the nation to receive Minimal Essential Coverage Certification. We continue to provide members with a very robust no-deductible coverage product (1999 – present). C3 is a subsidized product that allows us to keep costs low and affordable for the population we serve.

  • Connector.

    State Medical Plan

    Access Health was one of Michigan’s the first designated County Health Plans. In partnership with our state, Access Health regionally managed the Adult Benefit Waiver (ABW) Medicaid population. Our “Muskegon Care” plan operated for 35% less than other County Health Plan sites and achieved significantly better outcomes (1999 – 2014).

Why Does Our Model Work?

We aren’t insurance. We are a community-based health coverage program that was conceived by local residents who were concerned about uninsurance rates in 1999. While much has happened in the past 20 years, indecision about health policy and cost inflation continue to put stress on low-income working families. Indecision about the future of health care in our nation continues to drive uninsurance rates. To address these factors, our plan is built on the resources and support of our own community.

• Addressing Barriers. From inception, Access Health integrated Social Determinate of Health screening processes to address the socioeconomic barriers to low income populations. Today, our extensive screening process targets eight separate domains of health – well beyond assessments currently used by other health entities.

• Supporting Change. To ensure that vulnerable patients have the support they need to address personal barriers to success Access Health incorporates a health coach partnership program that measures the progress of our members. All Access Health members are required to participate in mandatory educational curriculum that targets issues such as financial literacy, health literacy, healthy eating and other significant factors.

• Aligning Systems. To address barriers to change, Access Health aligns local systems of care and incorporates extensive and long-term partnership with trusted community entities. These partnerships include: Mercy Health, United Way, HealthWest (Mental Health), City and County Government, FQHC’s, Affinia Health and many others. Some of our partners are also investors helping to support our work and its sustainability.

• Business Engagement. Because of our multi-share approach, Access Health has established long-standing, strong and vital relationships with our area businesses. Access Health has worked with over 2,000 local businesses ranging from small start-ups to larger corporations. Access Health also provides corporate wellness programs for local employers to support their workforce (2013 – present).

• Measuring Success. Access Health utilizes metrics to measure the efficacy of our care delivery, SDoH interventions and impact of other services. This additionally supports our ongoing efforts to improve quality standards and identify gaps in our existing services.

Policy Change and Model Expansion

Today, Access Health is working with the State of Michigan to expand financing opportunities and expansion of our model. We will be posting more on this work as our state conversations continue. Are you in Michigan and interested in joining the conversation or replication? Contact us with your questions, ideas, and interest. We are looking for partners!

We aren’t done there.

Because communities outside of Michigan are also expressing strong interest in replicating our coverage model, on October 30, 2019, Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-Michigan) introduced the Community Multi-Share Coverage Program Act (CMCPA) H.R. 4925. If passed, CMCPA will make grants available to nonprofit (501c3) hospitals and their partners to replicate the Access Health approach. Are you in another state and want to replicate the model? Are you interested in engaging your own Congressional representatives? We are looking for like-minded communities and health systems who are interested in joining our effort to deliver affordable health care that is life changing.