YKHC Improves Process for Medicaid Travel

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November 22, 2017 - 7 minutes read

Over the last year, YKHC has progressively taken over Medicaid approval and travel functions on behalf of the State of Alaska in an effort to improve customer experience. YKHC’s goal, by taking over travel management, is to improve communication and provide more timely results for our patients over the long- term.

We understand this transition has not been as smooth as we would like and we understand the frustration this has caused for many customers and their families. We are committed to, and making, several changes to staffing and operations to improve Medicaid travel for our customers.

To help immediately begin process improvements, Diana Murat, Director of Medicaid Services, has assumed management over all travel functions at YKHC. Born and raised in Bethel to the late Olaf and Mildred Hopstad, Diana is married with two children and four grandchildren. Diana has worked for YKHC since 2001, helping to develop billing procedures in numerous departments and, most recently, overseeing Medicaid enrollment for YKHC.

Under Diana’s leadership, YKHC’s Prior Authorization and Travel Management teams have already hired new staff in order to increase our call capacity and staff who can book or change Medicaid travel itineraries. We expect the addition of these critical positions to decrease call wait time and shorten the time needed for itinerary development during days of bad weather when call volumes increase dramatically.

We ask any customers with Medicaid travel questions, who needs to book a reservation, or adjust an itinerary due to weather delays to call 907-543-6625. Staff are available seven days a week and on all holidays, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. By calling this number, it will ensure customers seeking help experience no additional delays.

Click Here for Travel Tips from YKHC Travel Management Service

Frequently Asked Questions

If I need to travel to receive healthcare paid for by Medicaid, how do I get that set-up?

Medicaid is a program funded by the State of Alaska and the Federal government. The program requires all travel to be medically justified as defined by Medicaid. To set-up any travel paid by Medicaid a patient must:

  • Make an appointment with your medical provider (in your local clinic or the Bethel hospital). Your medical provider will securely send your information to YKHC Prior Authorization for approval by
  • YKHC Prior Authorization evaluates medical information from the medical provider to determine if the travel is medically justified as defined by
  • If the travel is deemed medically justified, the authorization is approved and securely sent back to the provider. The provider lets the patient know travel was approved and gives them the YKHC Travel Management’s phone number to book their
  • In the meantime, Prior Authorization notifies Travel Management that Medicaid travel was approved – so travel can be booked when a patient
  • To book Medicaid travel, all patients should call 907-543-6625 or toll-free at 1-855-543-6625.

I have Medicaid travel booked, but bad weather canceled my flight. What do I do?

Because Medicaid approves the exact flights and times a patient is scheduled for, any time weather cancels a flight, patients must contact whoever authorized their travel so it can be reauthorized through Medicaid. This will ensure any additional flight segments do not get canceled.

If a patient is currently in the village and a flight cancels, they need to contact their local clinic’s Office Assistant to complete an update with Medicaid for their itinerary.

If a patient is currently in Bethel and a flight cancels, they need to contact the Qavartarvik Hostel or Travel Management to complete an update with Medicaid for their itinerary.

If a patient is in Anchorage and a flight cancels, they need to contact their medical provider (whether ANMC, Providence, etc.) to complete an update with Medicaid for their itinerary.

I missed my flight. What do I do?

If a patient on Medicaid travel misses a flight, airlines automatically cancel remaining flight segments. Patients who miss a flight should call Travel Management at 907-543-6625 or toll-free at 1-855-543-6625.

I’ve been trying to call, but I’m on hold forever. What’s taking so long?

YKHC travel receives over 200 calls per day. Thank you in advance for your patience as we answer the calls in the order in which they were received. We have hired additional call center staff to decrease wait times. We are monitoring hold times to ensure we can make improvements where possible.

Why is YKHC taking over Medicaid approval and travel from the State of Alaska?

 Because the previous Medicaid travel vendor provided travel approvals and services for the entire state, at times our customers may have been on hold for 2-4 hours. Additionally, the previous travel vendor had limited weekend hour availability.

By taking over travel management, YKHC’s goal is to improve communication between our providers, patients, and travel departments – providing more timely results for our patients over the long-term – and to offer call support seven days a week. Other tribal health organizations will also be making this transition.

I’m not happy with the service I was provided, who can I talk to?

We want to hear feedback from our customers, so we know where and how we can make improvements. Have comments, complaints, or suggestions, please call 907-543-6024 or e-mail us at comments@ykhc.org.