According to Feeding America®, 5.5 million people age 60 and older are food insecure and 1 in 6 Americans could go hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food insecurity is a major social determinant of health, and seniors' ability to access food due to mobility and transportation limitations is increasing as a result of the pandemic.
Centene provides Medicare Advantage plans to nearly one million members across the country with solutions tailored to adults aged 65 years or older. Our health plans have implemented a number of measures to help members access care and address social determinants of health while keeping the needs of an aging population top-of-mind. In May, Centene announced cost-sharing would be waived for in-network primary care, behavioral health, and telehealth, while expanding over-the-counter and meal benefits for Medicare members.
As part of Centene’s commitment to addressing non-medical barriers to care, WellCare, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene, offers its WellCare's Community Connections Help Line — a toll-free, nationwide number — that encourages members to voice their needs. Between March 1 and June 30, the Help Line fielded more than 4,000 calls from Medicare members. Food assistance was the most requested service (34 percent) followed by medication assistance (26 percent) and transportation (14 percent). Continuing Centene’s history of innovation, new solutions were developed and implemented.
One recent enhancement is Centene's partnership with Shipt, a same-day delivery service. The program enables Medicare Advantage members to access groceries and everyday essentials safely and conveniently. Shipt-enrolled members can have essential supplies delivered directly to their homes, helping seniors avoid unnecessary trips to the store that could expose them to the novel coronavirus. The benefit is available to more than 200,000 WellCare members across 23 states and provides free monthly Shipt memberships to eligible members for the remainder of 2020.
This partnership is one example of Centene's ability to keep members’ needs at the forefront while increasing health-focused solutions. It's especially important that vulnerable populations receive access to services that will help them succeed. For more information on Centene's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.