SCAN launches new Medicare Advantage plan for LGBTQ+ seniors

SCAN Health Plan is launching a new plan designed for LGBTQ+ seniors, and executives said they hope the industry takes notice.

SCAN's new Affirm plan was built in partnership with Included Health and will be available to people living in California's Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Members can access Included's Communities program, which offers a dedicated care concierge and navigation platform for underserved communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals. Communities aims to address equity by improving health literacy, connecting people with affirming providers and boosting their trust in the healthcare system.

Members can also connect to Included Health's culturally affirming behavioral health and on-demand virtual visits, SCAN said in an announcement.

Jill Selby, senior vice president of product development, marketing and market expansion for SCAN, told Fierce Healthcare that the insurer saw unmet need in the market for a plan like this and brought its expertise in caring for seniors to bear.

"We felt we were in the best position to really forge this type of product," Selby said.

Recent research shows that there are 3 million members of the LGBTQ+ community who are over the age of 50, SCAN said, with that number expected to reach 7 million by 2030. LGBTQ+ patients experience discrimination when navigating healthcare, and, in combination with the challenges of aging, it can make it difficult for this population to age with dignity.

In addition to Included's services, the plans offer lower copayments on specialty tier drugs, including HIV treatments and gender-affirming hormone treatments as well as companion care services to address social isolation. The plan also includes a legal services reimbursement, which members can use to set up living wills, power of attorney and other key documents.

Selby said that the goal in covering legal services is to nudge patients to get needed documents together, as couples can run into issues navigating the healthcare system in a crisis if that documentation isn't prepared in advance.

"This is really a holistic product that is meant to address the needs across the entire continuum," she said.

SCAN Affirm is the first plan designed specifically for LGBTQ+ seniors, and the insurer is hoping that other companies choose to emulate the model for their own products. Sachin Jain, CEO of SCAN, told Fierce Healthcare that historically there has been a lot of "copycat behavior" in health insurance, and he sees a future where far more products are designed to the meet the needs for very specific populations.

He said the company hopes other health plans follow its example and create an "embarrassment of riches" for the LGBTQ+ population as well as other underserved patient groups. 

"Our goal in launching this product was not to just do it for our own members, but really drive our industry to think differently about customer segmentation and be inclusive of the LGBTQ+ population," Jain said. "We have to, from our own small part of the world, introduce programs, policies and products that are going to bend the arc of social justice."