Ginger Dives into Medicaid with New AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership

Ginger is diving into Medicaid through a new partnership with AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia. Under the agreement, all 110,000 AmeriHealth Caritas DC Medicaid plan enrollees will have access to Ginger’s full suite of virtual mental health services for free.

The announcement comes just a few months after Ginger CEO Russ Glass shared his ambitions to build out partnerships in the non-profit and government payer realms. In fact, he even hinted at the AmeriHealth Caritas news in an April conversation with Behavioral Health Business, saying the company would announce its first managed Medicaid partner in late Q2 or early Q3.

“Our vision is a world where mental health is never an obstacle,” Glass said at the time. “So implied in that vision is that we’re going to be able to care for people that are of lesser means, not only for the employees of companies that can afford high quality health care.”


Based in San Francisco, Ginger is an on-demand virtual behavioral health care system with a valuation north of $1 billion. It works with employers and other partners to deliver coaching, therapy and psychiatry to members via text and video, in addition to offering users a library of self-guided content and skill-building activities.

Currently, the majority of Ginger’s partners are employers who pay the company on a per-employee-per-month basis for a set amount of access to behavioral health services. However, it expects to at least double its health plan business between 2020 and 2022.

“[We’re] heads down on supporting health plans as effectively as we support enterprises,” Glass said in April. “That’s a relatively new motion for us. We’re just getting our first large health plans launched, and I think this year is largely about both expanding the enterprise [business] … and now getting to the point where we feel great about how we’re supporting health plan members as well.”


Meanwhile, AmeriHealth Caritas DC is one such plan. Nationally, AmeriHealth Caritas serves more than 5 million Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its integrated managed care products, behavioral health solutions, pharmaceutical benefit management and specialty pharmacy services. The managed care organization (MCO) is headquartered in Philadelphia.

Under the new partnership, AmeriHealth Caritas DC Medicaid plan enrollees can download the Ginger app, create an account and start texting with a behavioral health coach. Plus, they can immediately access Ginger’s collection of self-guided content and skill-building activities. Higher-level care delivered via video by therapists and psychiatrists is also available.

The partnership is especially important when one considers the unique challenges facing the Medicaid population, which has an especially hard time accessing behavioral health care.

While a shortage of clinicians makes access an issue for all Americans, the problem is even more pronounced for low-income and non-white communities frequently represented in the Medicaid population.

In fact, about 30% of therapists don’t accept insurance at all, meaning patients must pay out of pocket to receive care, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Additionally, psychiatrists accept Medicaid patients at a much lower rate (35.7%) than patients with Medicare (62.1%) or private insurance (62.2%), according to a 2019 report from Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

Then there are the racial considerations. For one, Black and brown clinicians can be hard to come by. Additionally, a 2016 report from the American Sociological Association showed that it’s harder for Black people in the middle-class to get behavioral health appointments compared to their white counterparts.

To help, Ginger allows members to be matched with coaches based on their gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, specialties and life experiences. It also offers a variety of specialty training to its providers, 44% of whom identify as BIPOC — triple the national average reported by the APA.

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