AHIP19: Insurance industry group announces initiative aimed at social determinants of health 

AHIP has launched a new initiative on the social determinants of health. (wutwhanfoto/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—AHIP is launching a new initiative aimed at convening payers to build solutions to address the social determinants of health. 

America’s Health Insurance Plans unveiled Project Link at its Institute & Expo on Thursday morning. The program will include a learning collaborative that will allow insurers to discuss social health trends and share best practices and projects they’ve found success in. 

AHIP has also created a hub website that will offer data, research and case studies on the social determinants to help facilitate those discussions. In addition, Project Link will help insurers make new connections to community and provider organizations to launch new initiatives. 

“We think this is really an instrumental initiative that will make a really important difference,” Matt Eyles, CEO of AHIP, said in a briefing with reporters at the conference. 

RELATED: AHIP19—Cigna’s Cordani says It's time to press pause on ‘Medicare for All’ talk, but change is necessary 

Eyles said the project was sparked in part by AHIP’s Board of Directors, which includes representatives from many of the country's largest insurers.  

As AHIP worked with the executives on the board to develop long-term strategic goals for the organization, Eyles said that board chair and Cigna CEO David Cordani pointed to the social determinants as an issue that should be a key focus. 

Rashi Venkataraman, executive director of prevention and population health at AHIP, said at the briefing that Project Link aims to regularly convene membership and thought leaders to discuss these issues. 

Several factors can complicate the launch of a new initiative, she said, including regulation at both the state and federal levels and how communities can vary quite widely in what they need and the resources they have available. 

RELATED: Payer groups form coalition to push surprise billing reforms 

Plus, Venkataraman said that these conversations can also help AHIP as a whole build a clear policy and research platform on the social determinants of health that it can use over the next several years. 

She said she expects elements of that to include ways to standardize assessments and screenings to identify plan members who would benefit most from nonclinical interventions and finding ways for Medicare Advantage plans to maximize the value of new flexibilities from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to offer supplemental benefits

“This work isn’t new,” Venkataraman said. “Social workers and case managers been doing this work for a very long time.” Groups like AHIP can now take “things like that to the next level,” she said.