Learn All About It: Education Improves Health Outcomes
by Madeleine Richter-Atkinson, Jamie Dudensing
Experts agree that as much as 80% of a person’s health is determined by factors outside of direct medical care. Whereas the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, and work — known as social determinants of health (SDOH) — play a much greater role. To encourage better outcomes, health plans are working in communities to help address SDOH, including the need for education.
A person’s education plays a significant role in determining whether or not they are able to live a healthy life. A lack of adequate education can result in unemployment or underemployment, not knowing how to eat healthily, and not knowing how to manage existing health conditions.
An Accenture study estimates the US spends at least $47 billion annually on unnecessary emergency department care that stems from health care system complexity and gaps in health literacy. Patients with a chronic condition and poor health care system literacy were twice as likely to visit an ER compared to peers with higher system literacy. Generally healthy people with poor health system literacy were almost three times as likely to visit an ER.
Medicaid plans across Texas address this issue through a variety of methods, including providing general and maternal health education programs, giving incentives for taking educational courses, and covering the cost of transportation to classes. These support systems and incentives make sure patients stay in control of their care and out of the emergency room while also providing easier access to health care education.
Click on the drop-down buttons below to learn more about how each plan is empowering their members to take charge of their health through education.
- To support the current and future health of pregnant members and new babies, BCBSTX provides a prenatal class for pregnant members.
- Partnering with KIPP Austin, BCBSTX runs an annual back to school event and invites other community organizations to come and provide families with various resources and information. At this year’s drive-through event, BCBSTX gave backpacks to 1,000 children in order to support improved future health outcomes through improved conditions for education.
Community Health Choice
- As part of its Career Ready program to support community employment, Community Health Choice (CHC) gives its CareerReady Scholars a scholarship and supportive services as they attend Houston Community College or San Jacinto college to pursue job certification programs.
- CHC members and families also have access to GED and workshop classes with onsite childcare through WorkTexas at Gallery Furniture.
- A 24/7 nurse help line is available to all CHC members. Line nurses provide health education in addition to a number of other services.
- Free educational materials on asthma are readily available for members, and new parents can receive free health education messages through Text4Baby.
Dell Children’s Health Plan
- Dell covers the costs of a GED for members to encourage the completion of a high school-level education, allowing members to pursue fruitful employment opportunities.
- Pregnant members are given transportation assistance for pregnancy, birthing, and newborn classes; educational materials on pregnancy, post-partum, and newborn care; and prenatal classes and baby showers for pregnant members with giveaway items.
Driscoll Children’s Health Plan
- Understanding the compounding social needs that prevent access to education, Driscoll assists members with getting a ride to health education classes.
- Through baby showers hosted by Cadena de Madres, pregnant members can learn about stages of pregnancy and ways to stay healthy throughout pregnancy. Each pregnant member who attends a baby shower receives a $100 gift card. Additionally, pregnant members have access to prenatal education sessions where they can learn about breast-feeding and nutrition.
El Paso Health Plan
- One of El Paso’s benefits for CHIP and STAR members includes a free ride service to get members to health education classes that are not covered under the regular NonEmergency Medical Transportation benefit.
First Care and Right Care by Scott & White Health Plan
- First Care and Right care both give one monthly ride for members to use for a number of purposes, including health education programs, vocational trainings, pregnancy and birthing classes, newborn classes, and CPR/first aid classes.
- For new parents and pregnant members, First Care provides both prenatal education for newborn health and educational text messages throughout pregnancy and the baby’s first year.
Molina Healthcare of Texas
- Molina’s Aeroflow Mom and Baby membership is available for pregnant members or members who recently delivered. The membership gives new mothers breastfeeding counseling as well as resources that include educational tips and tricks for new parents and pregnant members.
Parkland Community Health Plan
- Through Parkland HEALTHfirst Medicaid STAR, members have access to health education programs about prevention and treatment of certain medical conditions, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and prenatal care for pregnant women, as well as programs to help quit smoking.
- Parkland’s Be In Control Program provides educational materials and resources to support the management of asthma and diabetes — this program is available to Medicaid-eligible members for free.
- Parkland additionally incentivizes members to keep on top of their health by offering gift cards that can be redeemed for educational classes, among other catalogue items. For example, a member over the age of 15 can earn $10 each year they complete a diabetic eye exam, members with asthma can earn $60 each time they refill asthma medication prescription, and pregnant members can earn $60 per pregnancy when they receive a postpartum checkup within 21-56 days of delivery.
- For highly effective, lower doses of educational material, Parkland employs educational text messages — including Text4Babies, Text4Kids, Text4Health, Care4Life, and Text2Quit — that provide regular reminders and important information so members can take control of their and their families’ health care.
Superior Health Plan
- For easy access to resources, Superior’s member website includes an online social services resource directory to help members locate educational and other services.
Superior’s Start Smart for Your Baby program supports pregnant members by providing resources, including educational materials. Pregnant mothers are additionally given incentives such as diaper bags and and convertible car seats to download a pregnancy program mobile app and engaging with it for 30 days, attend community baby showers that provide pregnancy-related education and and information.
- Pregnant members age 19 or younger in their first trimester and enrolled in care coordination are also given a book with relevant topics.
Texas Children’s Health Plan
- Texas Children’s Health plan hosts a number of in-person and virtual seasonal activities and events exclusively for members that comprise its Health Education Special events.
The Educational Achievement program rewards high school members with high GPAs and attendance rates with a $25 reward card per semester.
- Members ages 17 and up who complete a GED can receive a reward card of up to $145.
- Pregnant members and new parents also have access to Basic Baby Care classes, which cover newborn care, infant CPR training, car seat safety, and breastfeeding basics. Pregnant members can also attend a childbirth education class and receive the book Understanding Childbirth as well as access to an interactive mobile app and 2 packs of newborn diapers.
- United provides its pregnant members an infant care book to ensure members are equipped with the knowledge they need to care for their new baby.