Humana's Broussard: COVID-19 putting spotlight on Medicare Advantage's holistic approach

AHIP's Matt Eyles interviews Humana's Bruce Broussard
America's Health Insurance Plans CEO Matt Eyles (left) interviews Humana CEO Bruce Broussard at a conference on Monday. (AHIP)

COVID-19 is proving the value of Medicare Advantage's holistic approach to care, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said Monday.

Broussard, speaking at the National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid and Dual Eligibles hosted by America's Health Insurance Plans, said the pandemic's broad impacts across many facets of life highlight the need for a care plan that also covers the patient that broadly.

He said that MA members are generally enrolled in the same plan for long periods of time, as much as seven to 10 years, which allows the care team to build a wealth of data and experience in managing their care.

"Medicare Advantage really encourages holistic care—people stay with us for a long tenure," Broussard said.

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The bulk of Humana's membership is in MA, and the senior population is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Medicare Advantage plans are enabled to coordinate care and address social needs more nimbly than traditional Medicare.

Humana, for instance, heard from its members that they were struggling with food insecurity amid social distancing, so they delivered about a million meals to members' homes to assist. In addition, the insurer launched a phone line members can use to connect with the care team, and quite a few called simply because they were lonely.

"Once you got them on the phone, you couldn't get them off," Broussard said. "It was quite rewarding for our employees."

Humana was also able to respond nimbly to the demand for more home health services and telemedicine as members were urged to stay home as much as possible. Broussard said technology is making it easier for health plans and providers to adopt an "omnichannel" approach to meeting patients' needs.

He cited Walmart as example. It was already poised to respond quickly to the demands of COVID-19, because it offered more than just in-store shopping and could provide delivery or pickup as well.

A care plan that is built solely on in-office care won't have that same level of flexibility, he said.

"If you only have one channel … that's the channel you deliver," Broussard said.