Perspectives on Opportunities and Challenges for Medicare Advantage Plans to Address Social Determinants of Health Via the CHRONIC Care Act

Published in: INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, Volume 56 (2019). doi: 10.1177/0046958019862120

Posted on RAND.org on February 12, 2021

by Melony E. Sorbero, Ashley M. Kranz

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There is increasing recognition of the role of social determinants of health (SDOH) in the ability of Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees to obtain needed care. The 2018 CHRONIC Care Act established Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI), which for the first time gives MA plans the flexibility to provide supplemental benefits to enrollees to address SDOH. Given the role of SDOH in chronic disease, this represents an opportunity for MA plans to address underlying issues not strictly health care related with which MA enrollees struggle and that affect their overall health. MA plans have experimented with different approaches to address SDOH but have been limited by the lack of ability to offer services as part of covered benefits and reliance on partnerships, grants, and other funding sources to support the provision of these services. The effect of this policy and how it may evolve before implementation begins in 2020 remains uncertain as we wait to see how MA plans will interpret eligibility criteria and services offered without any additional allotted funding.

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