Feb 16, 2021
In this report, the authors describe a baseline analysis of a permanent supportive housing program in Southern California to help address homelessness, examining demographic and clinical characteristics of enrollees and health care service utilization and costs. This analysis was intended to serve as an initial evaluation of the program—including its success in identifying and enrolling the intended target population.
Homelessness is a pervasive public health problem in the United States—affecting more than half a million individuals on any given night. Recently, state Medicaid expansion and movement away from fee-for-service payment models have fostered an increased interest in supportive housing programs implemented by health plans, hospitals, and large health systems to address homelessness and high health care service utilization. In this report, the authors assess the baseline implementation of a permanent supportive housing (PSH) program administered by a large not-for-profit Medicaid and Medicare managed care plan in Southern California—describing program operations; participant demographic, clinical, health service utilization characteristics; and medical costs. This effort drew from electronic medical records and programmatic data tracking systems. The program enrolled 164 adult health plan beneficiaries with self-reported homelessness and multimorbid medical or behavioral health conditions from April 2018 through October 2019. Program participants were predominantly male, middle-aged, and racially/ethnically diverse, with complex, multimorbid health conditions. The median number of past-year health conditions recorded was 17, generating an average health care expenditure of $70,447 per patient-year (i.e., year of patient enrollment). This compared with an average of three health conditions and an expenditure of $3,898 per patient-year for the typical managed care plan beneficiary. The most commonly reported health conditions among participants included type 2 diabetes, skin and bacterial infections, and septicemia. Baseline findings from this PSH program indicate its success in identifying and enrolling high-need individuals. Hospitals and health systems considering PSH programs may look to these results for guidance on implementation.