Health Care System Accepting New Math: Housing = Health

The social determinants of health are often the primary contributing factor to a lack of wellness. A lack of adequate housing with running water, toilets, heating or air conditioning can cause or exacerbate illness. Living in a developed country does not rule out third-world conditions. Some of health care costs from recurrent emergency room visits are due to homelessness.

United Health Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, is trying a new strategy — improving care for Medicaid enrollees with complex medical problems by providing social assistance, including housing.

The Residences at Camelback West in Phoenix has 500 rental units ranging from studios to two-bedroom apartments, of which 100 are set aside for homeless UnitedHealth Medicaid members. Photo: Tiempo Development & Management

In its home base of Oakland, California, health system Kaiser Permanente has invested $200 million in an affordable housing project, Hannah Norman reported in the San Francisco Business Times. Its help is not targeted exclusively at Kaiser members, instead aiming to benefit any residents who live in communities it serves.

�The return�s only going to work out if we target the right people,� Brenner told Tozzi. The myConnections team selects patients who are enrolled in UnitedHealth, are homeless, and who have annual medical spending greater than $50,000 mostly because of ER visits and inpatient stays. Those high-cost patients are UnitedHealth�s best bet for recovering the cost of its housing investment.

Kaiser and United Health Medicaid are tracking the two groups to compare the cost of medical care in each group

Bay Area Homeless analysis (click here)

Encampments beneath a freeway or light rail are common in many regions.

Metro and Light Rail Encampments

The Village in Oakland

This model would serve well in most communities with a collaboration of government, health insurers, and private enterprise. It would also serve to reduce public costs for sanitation, policing and crime.

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Health Care System Accepting New Math: Housing = Health – California Health Care Foundation: