In an indication that it will be targeting social determinants of health (SDOH), Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will begin piloting programs to address food insecurity. The payer is partnering with several state organizations and food banks to boost enrollment in the Food and Nutrition Services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The collaborative aims to educate members about these programs and their eligibility and provide support during the enrollment process. The insurer says the pilot programs will provide a baseline for future initiatives on social determinants.
As part of the pilots, North Carolina BCBS members will be able to access Eat Well, a prescription food program that provides a monthly stipend to buy healthful foods. The payer also has launched food-delivery and health-coaching programs for low-income members with type 2 diabetes and transportation programs for those who need help getting to and from grocery stores and doctor’s appointments.
In recent years, a number of large health insurers have made investments to address SDOH in areas with low-income housing, but these efforts have been funded by charitable grants, notes a blog last year from the Center on Health Insurance Reforms. However, payers generally have not changed benefits designs, reimbursement policies or other business practices, it states.