The MA plan notes that social determinants of health are worsening among the elderly

Social determinants of health have become a trendy term over the past five years. They were what every healthcare provider – and particularly the home care provider – wanted to accommodate the elderly.

But during the pandemic, some of these factors made the elderly worse. This is according to a new study conducted by Toluna and sponsored by Alignment Healthcare, the latest of which is a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan.

“There is a lot of data suggesting that social determinants of health have an impact on health care,” Dr. Dinesh Kumar, CMO of Alignment, told Home Health Care News. “What are the biggest barriers to health care and what are the other things besides great health care that could actually add more value to these seniors? We wanted a more specific survey on a more targeted population. And it was more representative of the communities in which we find ourselves ”.

The study, dubbed “Social Threats to Aging Well in America,” asked 2,601 adults aged 65 and over in the United States about their “biggest obstacles to health care and the support they need to overcome these. challenges “.

He found that economic stability, transportation, loneliness, food insecurity, mental health, and technological barriers were all obstacles.

Specifically, the study found that:

– More than one in five seniors in the United States lists inability to pay as the main obstacle to health care in the next year, and one in six is ​​in medical debt

– 21% rank loneliness and isolation among the top factors causing stress and mental health problems – one in five say they feel more alone than last year

– 15% of seniors expect to find it difficult to put healthy food on their table in the next year, while a third consider food support as their top priority

– One in seven say they will not have consistent transport to medical care over the next year

– A quarter of seniors said COVID-19 had the biggest negative impact on their mental health in the past year

– 10% of seniors say lack of access to reliable technology, or difficulty with technology, will be a barrier to health and medical care in the coming year

Ultimately, Alignment is an elderly-focused MA plan serving seniors in California, Arizona, Nevada, and North Carolina. The company offers a number of additional benefits through its plan, including those that address the aforementioned impediments.

He also collaborates with the Papa home care company.

“Historically, we have had many additional benefits that have sought to address some of the known social determinants of health – for example, we have shopping benefits, transportation benefits and company benefits,” Kumar said.

When the open enrollment period begins in October, the company may also broaden its benefits as it reacts to this survey.

“You will see new products for the benefits of the plan we have put in place to address some of these,” he continued. “We will use this data and follow-up data similar to this to actually tailor additional products and benefits over time to meet some of the key needs our seniors face… as well as providing them with great health care. Because if you don’t take care of the whole human being, you’re not really taking care of their problems. “

Home care is part of Alignment’s mission to address care gaps for all senior members as well.

Through its “Care Anywhere” program, it provides 24/7 care to the elderly through a nurse and social worker to frail and sick people at home.

“What you see here is what’s happening across the country,” Kumar said. “And for us as a country it is our duty to think about how we take care of our elderly and how much time each of us spends with our families to make sure we face this feeling of loneliness.”

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