John Tozzi, Bloomberg, November 5
Jeffrey Brenner is a doctor who for more than 25 years has worked largely with the poor, many of them homeless. After decades in shoestring clinics and nonprofits, he’s become an executive at UnitedHealth Group Inc. Brenner aims to reduce expenses and contribute to their bottom line not by denying care, but by spending more on social interventions, starting with housing. The U.S. system is engineered to route billions of dollars to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and labs to diagnose and treat patients once they’re sick. It’s not set up to keep vulnerable people housed, clothed, and nourished so they’ll be less likely to get sick in the first place. He is using UnitedHealth’s money to pay for housing and support services for formerly homeless recipients of Medicaid. After testing the idea in Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Las Vegas, UnitedHealth is expanding the housing program to 30 markets by early 2020.
Kushal T. Kadakia, Shivani A. Shah, Barak D. Richman, Health Affairs Blog, November 5
What causes a county to become the state’s costliest place for health care? In rural North Carolina, it isn’t the lavish technology or complex patient population, it’s the lack of access to primary care. When Medicaid beneficiaries become sick, they go to the hospital because no physician is nearby. And because transportation is often lacking, these patients call for an ambulance. In short, they seek the most expensive care because that is the only care available.