Payers investing in housing to cut healthcare costs, AHIP says

Health insurance providers are increasingly designing programs to offer safe and affordable housing options to improve the health and reduce care costs for members at risk of homelessness, according to a report from America's Health Insurance Plans.

The report cites multiple studies highlighting how a lack of appropriate housing can affect health outcomes and the use of high-cost healthcare services among America's homeless population. For example, hospitalization rates and emergency room use can be between three to four times higher for homeless patients, according to a study published by the American Public Health Association.

AHIP listed several examples about how some of its members are investing in housing initiatives. AmeriHealth Caritas recently established a multiyear plan to invest $250,000 into organizations focused on fighting homelessness in Washington, D.C.

In 2017, Anthem Indiana Medicaid launched its Blue Triangle Program. The program aims to improve the health and quality of life of Anthem members at risk of homelessness. Blue Triangle gives those members short housing arrangements through 50 single-room units in downtown Indianapolis. The program has led to an $872 monthly cost decrease per participant, on average. In May 2017, 266 people were referred to the program and 105 were moved into it.

"Housing remains one of the most complicated determinants to address, with several competing factors at play," according to AHIP. "Often, federal and state resources are narrowly defined for specific populations with strict eligibility requirements. Innovations in housing must be tailored to local needs — some cities may have a critical shortage of affordable housing while for others, the bigger issue may be the quality of the available housing."

More articles on payers:
Mayo Clinic to launch health plans with Minnesota insurer
Average individual deductible hits nearly $1.5K: 6 survey findings
America's uninsured rate remained relatively unchanged from 2016 to 2017

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