A Housing Benefit that Improves Health Outcomes

Author: Nevin Folino

The top tier of social determinants of health (SDOH) factors is housing – and there’s a solution plan providers can offer members. 

Housing is far more than a roof over your head, an address or a shelter from life’s storms. Housing drives healthcare outcomes – it can improve or degrade a person’s physical, mental and behavioral condition. When plan members are in transition or experiencing housing insecurity, they are much more likely to lean on benefits to visit the E.R., experience longer hospital stays, require repeat visits for chronic conditions, and need prescription medications. 

Housing matters. At Upside, that’s what we do… and more.

It’s a pivotal factor in maintaining one’s whole health. Housing is the core – the top tier in a hierarchy of needs to stay well as we age. Those needs are commonly referred to as Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), and aside from housing they include basic necessities such as access to nutrition foods, reliable transportation and more. SDOH factors are modifiable and impact 80% to 90% of a person’s health, according to a report by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Based on a population health study by Humana, the four pathways connecting housing and health include: 

  • Stability
  • Quality and safety 
  • Affordability 
  • Neighborhood

As a plan provider, if you know that housing can reduce healthcare utilization and cost, what member-centric benefits can you offer to alleviate the burden? There is a scalable solution that will allow members to address SDOH issues head-on with support so they can age with their plan in a healthy way. 

As providers tackle population health and design strategies to reduce healthcare utilization to improve outcomes, Upside is delivering the only fully managed living option for older adults creating a new category of senior living. When Upside is a plan benefit, members gain access to modern apartments in vibrant, safe, amenity-rich apartment communities. It’s a turnkey living experience for those who want to simplify living later in life – and for healthcare plan providers that recognize the importance of investments in housing and supportive services. 

The Modern Healthcare Hierarchy of Needs 

Housing often rests under the radar because of the lack of data related to how SDOH factors impact healthcare outcomes. Plan providers are often not aware of life transitions members face, which often includes finding new housing when one of the “5 Ds” occurs. 

Many seniors lack the necessary support network to find a new home that meets their social and physical needs. And as we consider traditional senior housing options, only about 10% of older adults will transition into assisted living environments. There’s a stigma attached – plus it’s expensive and challenging to navigate. 

With Upside, insurers can offer a housing benefit with wrap-around support to make the transition seamless, from finding an appropriate apartment community in the Upside network to handling the lease and other administrative steps. Upside addresses the four pathways connecting housing and health. And with the Upside benefit, members can lean on a geriatric care manager that facilitates SDOH services, including transportation to appointments, meal delivery, social activities and more. 

Now more than ever, payers, health systems, governments and providers are pursuing strategies to improve health through housing. As more states add SDOH requirements for managed care organizations, Upside is leading the movement with a unique offering for plans. Unlike aggregate services, we’re focused on housing as the top tier in the SDOH hierarchy of needs, and we offer the supportive services that fall underneath and promote healthy lifestyles and aging well in place.

Mining Data that Inspires Positive Change 

How can plan providers better screen for SDOH factors impacting members? Because many active adults hold a strong sense of pride and enjoy their privacy, it’s not unusual for housing and other social determinants that impact health to be tucked away. It’s embarrassing to talk about. And in some ways, it’s taboo conversation that adults don’t want to mention to friends or even their own families. Housing insecurity and lack of access to basics like transportation and meals can feel like losing one’s dignity. But insurers can address these gaps in a respectful, helpful way that feels comfortable for their older adult members. And at the end of the day, it will improve members’ health. 

How? Along with the Upside benefit, plan providers can unlock a wealth of data with technology that proactive identifies and addresses care gaps. That includes delivering comprehensive health-risk and housing assessments. And it means providing intelligence about members at low, moderate or high risk for factors like chronic conditions, medication noncompliance, preventive care and SDOH issues including housing insecurity. 

Scalable Housing – the Member-Centric Upside Difference 

Members have different needs, and when you’re designing benefits and delivering plans, tailoring solutions for every individual can be a challenge. We get it. But you can accomplish this with the housing piece through Upside because we provide scalable solutions. We offer choice, and we help members navigate decisions so they can transition into a simpler phase of life knowing their needs and more are right there at home.

Upside can scale up or down with members’ needs.

Upside serves 97 markets across 42 states and will be offering housing solutions in all 50 states by early 2023. We work with a wide range of health plans and long-term care providers with varying added-value services and benefits in place. Some providers are looking for a comprehensive suite of Upside living and concierge services, while others are interested in wrap-around support to enhance their existing offering.

We’re redefining what it means to age in place.

Join us on the journey and deliver the value your members are seeking as they navigate aging in place.

Upside Corporate Headquarters

6365 NW 6TH Way, Suite 200

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309