Health insurance may now help some Californians find housing – InsuranceNewsNet
Thanks to an experimental new program aimed at easing the state’s deep homelessness crisis, some Californians can now get housing assistance from an unlikely source: their health insurance plan.
With the launch this year of CalAIM,
Proponents say the program recognizes what doctors and social workers have known for years – it’s incredibly hard to keep people healthy if they live on the streets or risk losing their homes.
“There is no medicine as powerful as housing,” said Dr.
But CalAIM has a limited reach. This only applies to Medi-Cal’s most vulnerable patients, leaving some experts worried that people who might use housing assistance are falling through the cracks. And while CalAIM can help participants find housing and give them limited cash for security deposits and first- and last-month rent, federal law prohibits the program from paying their rent on an ongoing basis. Nor can he conjure up more housing in a state sorely lacking in affordable options.
“It’s the hole in the middle of the donut,” said Dr.
Early pilot programs testing the CalAIM model showed that while patients visited the emergency room less often, most homeless participants did not find housing.
There are 14 new benefits insurance plans can offer patients through CalAIM, ranging from housing services and help securing healthy food to help eliminate mold and other triggers of mildew. asthma from their home. Insurance plans choose which options to offer, with the goal of eventually expanding to all 14. The program is expected to cost approximately
But it’s unclear how many people CalAIM can house. Alameda County’s Whole Person Care pilot — a precursor to CalAIM that ran from 2016 to 2021 — served approximately 30,000 people, two-thirds of whom were homeless. Of those homeless participants, 69% received some sort of roof over their heads, including beds in emergency shelters and temporary hotel rooms. Only 36% ended up with permanent housing.
“I wish it was higher,” said Clanon, the county medical director. Even so, she called 36% successful. Prior to the pilot program, only 10% of homeless people in the county’s homeless-services system received permanent housing each year, she said.
“Finding housing is very difficult even when you have a strong housing navigation program,” said
The results were similar across the state. According to a recent report on
Anderson slept briefly in his car before moving to a temporary shelter in a
Anderson moved in this month, and the first thing she did was hang some string lights on her porch. She wants to turn her balcony into a “zen space” where she can drink tea and meditate before reporting for her job as a peer advocate for HIV-positive women.
“It’s just nice to know that if you ask for help, find help, and get to work, life is good,” she said. “It’s incredible.”