A Managed Care Company Provides Housing Opportunity

Housing, Healthcare and Employment Turning Around the Life of a Family Once at Risk

A woman profiled in a Marketplace story from last week, worked in the healthcare system, at a hospital, when she faced risk of homelessness.  She frequently visited an emergency department for health care stemming from experiencing mental illness.  She should be commended for sharing her story, which is often not an easy thing to do, with Marketplace.

Hospitals and, in this case insurance companies providing managed care, can house not only the individuals experiencing homelessness who frequently visit their emergency departments. This population being housed might also overlap with their employees or potential employees.

Hospitals provide a variety of employment opportunities for individuals with an extremely wide range of education, training and skills. Many of these job opportunities are in areas that keep hospitals running. These jobs involve keeping the hospitals clean, serving food to their patients and staff, and drawing blood from and caring for patients.

“Shenell Anderson of West Allis, Wis., was struggling with anxiety, depression and postpartum depression while recovering from an unplanned Caesarean section in 2017. She cycled in and out of the emergency room daily with panic attacks she thought were heart attacks.”

“Anderson, now 29, landed a phlebotomist job at a hospital, then lost it because of the panic attacks. She neared homelessness as the sister of her children’s father, whose home she and her two young sons were staying in temporarily, gave them a timeline to move out. Money was tight.”

Anderson needed first, not only a home for her family that she could afford but also mental health care and a primary care physician who could manage her health care needs. She happened to be one of the patients screened by UnitedHealth UNH My Connections program because she frequently visited the emergency department.

According to Marketplace, UnitedHealth UNH’s MyConnections program is

“An effort to target and house high-cost, high-need Medicaid members whose annual cost of care totals $50,000 or more. The intervention aims to boost patients’ health outcomes and drive down their emergency-room and inpatient-services use, while reducing the total cost of their care.”

How does this mangaged care work? Marketplace reports that,

“These MCOs, also operated by companies including Anthem, CVS Health’s Aetna CVS, and Centene CNC, receive a fixed payment per Medicaid member each month from states. UnitedHealth’s health plans receive $500 to $1,000 a month on average, according to Jeffrey Brenner, a family physician and UnitedHealth’s senior vice president for clinical redesign, who leads the MyConnections program.”

The housing first model can work very well in housing patients like Anderspm who use Medicaid and /or frequently visit the hospital emergency department. What Anderson essentially needed first and foremost to care for her family, maintain employment and stabilize her mental health was a home that she could afford.

“Given a budget range of $700 to $850 a month, Anderson found a quiet, little two-bedroom in West Allis, located just outside of Milwaukee, for $725. The program (MyConnections) also connected her with counseling services, a nutritionist and a yoga instructor, and helped coordinate her doctors’ appointments and transportation.”

Anderson tells us in her own words, the impact that affordable housing has had on her life.

“Having secure housing and “wraparound” services enabled Anderson to focus on herself and allayed her fears of ending up on the street with her kids, she said. “It gave me a new level of confidence that as long as we maintain this roof over our head, that we’ll be able to grow as a family, and I’ll be able to invest more into my children,” she said.”

Through UnitedHealth and MyConnections, Anderson not only found a home that she can afford but also another job opportunity in the healthcare field. She now works for UnitedHealth as a hiring manager. Market place reports,

“She assumed responsibility for her rent payments in September, and is now earning a master’s degree online in marriage and family counseling. “One of the largest essentials to life,” Anderson said, “is being able to live somewhere without extra worry.”