AHIP advocates for health insurance providers and the patients and communities they serve. Health equity was, appropriately, one of the main themes at their conference last week.
The past two years have highlighted the inequities across our communities. Inequity looks different both within different communities and on an individual level. Personal life circumstances vary drastically, and “real life” looks different for every individual—especially when we’re talking about the ability to manage personal health outside of a doctor’s office.
Choosing to eat healthy isn’t always a choice someone can easily manage: approximately 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in food deserts, with 2.3 living 10 or more miles from the nearest supermarket.
Choosing to take time out of one’s day for exercise isn’t always possible: for individuals who have multiple jobs or childcare responsibilities, “free time” is hard to find.
Choosing to “go to therapy” might not be a simple solution to cope with emotional stress: not only is it often still stigmatized, but also individuals might not have the ability to drive to a therapist’s office, take time off work during the day, or pay for costly, regular sessions.
Addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) for each person is crucial if we are to improve equity and quality of care—and health benefits can play a significant role in achieving that end.
During the AHIP sessions, Virgin Pulse hosted a panel with Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, Medica, and Priority Health about the importance of bringing personalization to scale, which I found captivating given the value MOBE places on one-on-one discussions and personalized plans. Gathering information directly from individuals is essential to ensure we truly understand their unique situations. Additionally, all three companies discussed the need for technology integration to make it easy for members to access care solutions. Convenience is priceless. For individuals in food deserts, with multiple jobs, childcare responsibilities, or lack of reliable transportation, bridging that gap requires technology and humanity.
At MOBE, information gained during one-on-one discussions, insights drawn from data analytics, and biometrics collected from the use of digital health can provide a complete understanding of a participant’s overall health—and how it can be improved. Having a personal, dedicated MOBE Guide can help develop insight into one’s personal situation, background, or perspective on wellbeing and health. Additionally, experts can optimize a participant’s medications or supplements, and support them in making beneficial lifestyle choices leading to healthier, longer, happier lives.
Health plans can—and must—engage to set individuals, health care providers, and the health system up for success. Done right, health plans can leverage technology to identify the members who need support the most. The more health plans invest in relationship building with members, the larger impact we can have on a participant’s health decisions and overall understanding of personal health. When people get healthier, everyone wins!
Helping participants better understand and address their personal wellbeing reduces strain on the health care system. When individuals don’t understand the underlying issues for their physical, mental, or emotional challenges, it’s impossible to know what to address to feel healthier and happier. By helping people understand how factors related to one’s physical health, lifestyle, emotional health, and medications are interconnected —and decreasing the churn that inevitably comes from an individual not understanding their needs and challenges—individuals can finally close the gap between the doctor’s office and real life… whatever “real life” looks like for them.
In the words of AHIP President and CEO, Matt Eyles, “We understand that much work remains… on advancing health equity and removing social barriers to health,” and that “every American should be supported in achieving their best health.” I am honored to work for a company where we are committed to making this a reality.