Molina expands focus on Social Determinants of Health by offering members Amazon Prime
Molina Healthcare of Washington announced a new partnership with Amazon this week aimed at addressing the “social determinants of health” (SDH) for its Washington State Medicaid Apple Health members.
Molina will provide 90 days of Amazon Prime at no cost to adult members in an effort to reduce barriers to healthy food and health-related supplies, which can become challenging to access for lower-income individuals and families without reliable access to transportation. After the 90-day trial period, members can continue their membership at a discounted $5.99 per month rate, if the member chooses.
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Molina President Peter Adler explained in a recent conversation with State of Reform,
“For the last two and a half years Molina has become increasingly aware that the social determinants of health are as, and sometimes even more important, to improving the health of individuals, than any other type intervention that we could offer. Included among the very large realm of SDH are issues associated with barriers due to not having transportation, not having easy access to healthy food, and/or the cost of either healthy food or health related products.”
For example, a 2017 assessment of food availability in Washington State found that few places in the state could strictly be described as ’food deserts‘ for those with access to a car. However, 6 percent of low-income residents lack reasonable access to supermarkets. 78 percent of the time this is caused by the lack of a personal vehicle. The rate was even higher in rural areas. Molina serves Apple Health members statewide in all 39 counties.
“For you and for me, when we need aspirin, we stop at the pharmacy on the way home from work, or we stop at the supermarket or we order from Amazon. But for many of our members, those conveniences are not always available. There are transportation issues and there are cost issues.”
This first of its kind agreement aims to strike at this challenge by providing home delivery and free shipping through Amazon Prime on healthy food items, and other health-related products, which members might not otherwise be able to reach or afford. In addition, members will enjoy access to other traditional Prime features that can be important for health outcomes, such as baby food, diapers, educational programming, and fitness and health videos.
Molina currently serves about 50 percent of all Medicaid members in Washington State, or close to 780,000 members. With such a large population statewide Adler is excited for the potential impact this program can make.
“Out of all the social determinants of health challenges that we are working on every day, we are really excited about this one. We think it’s going to be a huge value add for Molina members’ overall health, as well as for us to continue our work to include other social determinants of health in Molina’s Whole Person Health initiatives throughout the state.”
Molina hopes that this program will particularly benefit under-resourced rural areas of the state, and vulnerable populations, like those facing mobility challenges, the homebound, and people living in group homes.
The 90-day Amazon Prime access at no cost to members, followed by a discounted membership fee, is the first phase of this initiative. The second phase involves a transition of Molina’s health incentives and rewards programs to Amazon gift card rewards in the coming months. Adler said that he hopes that this offer, once fully implemented and combined with the Prime membership, will better enable Molina members to purchase healthier foods and health-related products available on Amazon. Molina will also be exploring a digital shopping experience, targeted toward healthy choices and health improvement outcomes for their members.
Both Adler and Laurel Lee, Molina’s VP of Member and Community Engagement, said that Amazon has been wonderful to work with in this endeavor. Both spoke highly of the company’s creativity and desire to serve Molina’s member population in bigger ways.
Lee reports that within 24 hours after the program’s announcement on Monday hundreds of members had already signed up for their 90 days of Molina ‘Prime on Us,’ offer, and expects exponential participation in coming weeks. The organization only began actively notifying adult Apple Health members of their new offer this week, Adler emphasized,
“This is just the beginning. There’s going to be a lot more that I can’t talk about yet. There’s no magic bullet when you get to the social determinants of health, but we think this will make a difference and we are hoping that every adult Molina Apple Health member will take advantage of this. Molina will continue to partner with organizations that share our passion for serving our members and addressing the social determinants of health.”