That’s why we are leading efforts to make nutritious food more accessible and affordable, especially for our most vulnerable consumers, and ensuring that nutrition is an important part of the way we think about and achieve health.
Over the past year, for example, we doubled the number of nutrition programs in our benefit plans, with more increases to come nationwide in 2021. We also provide Medicare Advantage plan members access to wellness services, including access to a dietitian. These social drivers of health benefits helped contribute to our nearly 18% growth in Medicare Advantage members in 2020.
Our Healthy Nutrition benefit is a case in point. When appropriate to support consumers with a chronic condition, we provide telephonic consultation sessions with a dietitian, plus a monthly shipment of non-perishable pantry staples to help them adopt and maintain healthy eating habits.
“I was in really bad shape,” said Marie Swanson. “I was close to 350 pounds, bedridden, and in a wheelchair. So, I decided to do something about it and went to see my doctor. I was shocked to learn that my insurance plan offered support.”
Through her plan, Marie connected with an Anthem dietitian who assessed her eating habits and gave Marie the emotional support she needed to make lifestyle adjustments. “The next time I had my blood tests done, my doctor was amazed at the improvements in my numbers,” Marie said.
I’ve been able to continue down my weight loss path and have lost 70 pounds. I’m walking 5-7 miles a day and living a healthier life!
Care providers acknowledge nutrition is a critical component of overall health, but without the resources to support patients, they don’t always have those conversations. So we’re building behavior change into the system.
In 2020, we launched a program to train and incentivize care providers to screen members for underlying health needs and provide the resources to make referrals to relevant community-based organizations through Aunt Bertha, a technology platform that finds free and reduced-cost programs to assist with food, transportation, job training, and more in every zip code across the country. The Social Drivers of Health Provider Incentive Program launched in four of our Medicaid markets in 2020, with 13 more markets expected this year.
As patient engagement coordinator Zwena Randolph at DePaul Community Health Centers shared, “Great relationships with community partners are critical to addressing social determinants of health affecting underserved populations. These partnerships proved invaluable when assisting a member at the onset of the pandemic. The member’s family was in dire need of housing. Because of the provider incentive program, we had the tools to refer to a partner that addresses housing needs and received food, diapers, and school supplies from other partners. I also learned the member’s entire family needed healthcare services, so I set up appointments at our health centers for them.”
As much as 80% of a person’s health status is influenced by drivers of health. The need to address this challenge through partnerships with our care providers is only growing.
Perhaps the most important part of our food strategy is the commitment of our Anthem associates. Mobilized by our culture and strong connections to the community, our associates are compelled to act. Despite the pandemic, they logged more than 4,700 hours of time dedicated to addressing food access and nutrition, both virtually and in-person.
Our marquee volunteer event is our annual Season of Service, when our associates serve and strengthen the communities in which they live and work. This past year, taking all necessary safety precautions, associates gave their time and energy at more than 50 in-person events, including packing meals and distributing food to families in need.
In the fall of 2020, we hosted two large-scale distribution events with Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana at our corporate headquarters, where our dedicated associates rolled up their sleeves to help distribute food to nearly 2,500 families. These drive-through events were part of the No One Runs on Empty Campaign, which ultimately helped provide more than 14 million meals to our neighbors in Indianapolis.
through Associate match program
— John Elliott, President and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
Additionally, when Anthem associates learned that the Gleaners staff couldn’t support bilingual requests, SOMOS, Anthem’s Hispanic Associate Resource Group, stepped up to call Spanish-speaking community members to help them fill out food request forms. SOMOS made more than 400 calls in 2020.
“Our volunteers are not just making calls – they are making an impact,” says Angela Lopez, the SOMOS Indiana Chapter lead. “We are helping them bridge the gap between hunger and hope.”