How Medicare Advantage plans can tackle loneliness, per Elevance Health

A program designed to support socially-isolated Medicare Advantage members helped improve feelings of loneliness and depression, according to a report from the Elevance Health Public Policy Institute. 

Around one in four adults over age 65 is considered socially isolated. According to the 2018 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, around 28 percent of Medicare beneficiaries report being diagnosed with at least one mental health condition. 

Elevance Health's study, published Sept. 14, surveyed 117 people who participated in the payer's member connect program for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. The program is designed to reach beneficiaries at risk for loneliness, including those who live alone, have been diagnosed with a serious illness or have recently been widowed. 

Members in the program receive support from a social care partner, who develops a care plan for the member and a phone pal, who provides weekly check-ins with the member and encourages habits to improve social connectedness. 

Program members reported a 4 percent decrease on the UCLA loneliness scale and a 15 percent decrease in depressive symptoms compared to those who had not participated. Of the participants surveyed, 94 percent said they felt they had more meaningful connections with people through joining the program, and 79 percent reported an increase in activities that brought them joy or purpose. 

See the full report here.

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