UnitedHealth expanding housing program to 30 markets by early 2020

UnitedHealth Group plans to extend its housing program for homeless Medicaid recipients, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The expansion comes after the insurer tested the housing program in Phoenix, Milwaukee and Las Vegas. Thirty more markets will be added to the program, called MyConnections, by early 2020, Jeffrey Brenner, MD, senior vice president for clinical redesign at UnitedHealth, told the publication.

At its core, the program aims to lower healthcare spending for Medicaid recipients who frequently use emergency services because they don't have a place to live. Dr. Brenner shared the story of one Phoenix patient named Steve, who was homeless before UnitedHealth provided him an apartment. In the year before he got housing, Steve visited the emergency room 81 times and was hospitalized for 17 days. His monthly healthcare bill totaled approximately $13,000 on average. After receiving housing and care management coaching from UnitedHealth, Steve's monthly medical expenses fell more than 80 percent to about $2,000, according to Bloomberg.

Steve represents the type of patient UnitedHealth wants for its housing project: one who is homeless and spends more than $50,000 each year on healthcare due to ER visits and inpatient stays. Without this type of potential savings, the company would struggle to break even on the investment, according to the report. 

Next year, UnitedHealth plans to house 350 homeless Medicaid patients who collectively spend more than $17 million on healthcare annually. To read more about the program, click here.

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