In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, member satisfaction & retention is mission critical to a health plan’s success. Every year, product teams are constantly striving to provide customer-centric & innovative solutions that can deliver optimal performance, either through their own in-house services or via vendor/community partnerships. While many traditional benefits remain vital, emerging strategies such as addressing Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are proving to be game-changers in member health, wellbeing, and overall satisfaction.
Today’s Medicare members expect more than just basic benefits from their health carriers. While Medicare Advantage plans must offer the same foundational benefits as Original Medicare according to Medicare.gov, it’s the added ‘supplemental’ benefits that often set them apart. Beyond the customary offerings like dental care and wellness programs, plans are now addressing SDOH through various benefit offerings like transportation services, grocery deliveries, and companionship programs. But perhaps the most crucial yet under-addressed SDOH is housing. As the healthcare landscape grows more competitive, addressing the holistic needs of members through the home is the next frontier in innovation.
Housing instability poses more than just a logistical hurdle for members—it presents a significant health risk. Extensive research has revealed that unstable & insecure housing contributes to heightened stress, an increased likelihood of in-home falls & other severe injuries, exacerbation of chronic conditions, and notably higher hospital readmission rates. By ensuring a stable living environment, health plans can anticipate not only improved member health and reduced care costs, but also increased member satisfaction thus subsequently bolstered retention rates.
And it’s not hard to grasp; when health plans proactively address a member’s housing needs, they demonstrate a profound commitment to their overall well-being. These initiatives cultivate trust and loyalty, motivating members to select and remain with a plan that genuinely caters to their specific needs. Stable housing also eradicates numerous barriers to care, enabling more effective interventions and nurturing stronger member-provider relationships. For carriers nationwide, this brings an opportunity to deliver care in a way that’s never been done, all the while benefiting their business and accelerating against the competition.
According to a recent study by Oliver Wyman, member retention is intrinsically tied to the financial health and sustainability of a health plan. This study underscored that even a marginal 1% increase in member retention could propel the plan’s margin by an impressive 3%. Given that housing can have such an influence on this, it’s evident that the integration of housing support isn’t just advantageous—it’s imperative.
Retaining members, particularly in Medicare Advantage, poses its challenges. A study in the American Journal of Managed Care discovered that 15.6% of new MA enrollees shifted insurance within a year post-enrollment, and a staggering 49.2% had transitioned by five years. This high turnover can result in care discontinuities, escalated expenditures, and poorer health outcomes.
With the myriad challenges in play, it’s imperative for health plans to innovate continuously. Addressing housing needs, a significant SDOH, offers a multi-faceted solution. By ensuring members have stable housing, health plans can elevate health outcomes, boost member satisfaction, and significantly increase retention rates. As we navigate the dynamic healthcare realm, let’s prioritize housing support, ensuring our members receive the comprehensive care they deserve.