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IMI Study Finds that Majority of States are Collecting Social Needs Data as Part of the Medicaid Enrollment Form

January 30, 2020

IMI Study Finds that Majority of States are Collecting Social Needs Data as Part of the Medicaid Enrollment Form

Washington, DC – The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI), the nonprofit, nonpartisan Medicaid research group, released findings from their landmark study assessing the extent to which state Medicaid enrollment forms collect social determinants of health information.  The study found wide variation in state inclusion of questions related to social needs with Oregon asking 21 questions and Missouri asking 7 questions. Of the questions on the enrollment form, 90% of states asked about language preference, 36% of states asked about housing or food assistance needs, 18% of states asked about homelessness, 16% asked about the presence of family violence, and 8% about transportation needs.

As a safety-net program for low-income individuals, Medicaid serves a population that is disproportionately affected by unmet social needs. The Medicaid program is uniquely positioned to identify and address the social determinants of health (SDOH) for those who are most affected, coordinating needed services and supports that will improve overall health outcomes. Collection of social needs information at the point of enrollment may help state Medicaid agencies, Medicaid managed care organizations, community-based organizations, and clinical practices facilitate early identification of health risk factors and referrals to targeted interventions. However, without comprehensive data- including accurate information about factors that might impact an enrollee’s access to care or health outcomes- health plans may be unable to tailor their outreach, referrals, and care plans to specific needs.

In addition to highlighting the variation of data collected in the categories of health status, social determinants of health, and demographic information, the report identified important clinical, research and policy opportunities for enrollment information. These options include addressing barriers to data sharing, exploring clinical partnerships to address social factors, and understanding the impact of integrating SDOH data into the EDI 834, and understanding how states can leverage this data once collected. The report provides Medicaid stakeholders with the informational tools to improve the access to, use of, and sharing of social needs data across organizations in Medicaid.

Read the full report here.  The accompanying fact sheet can be accessed here.


About the Institute for Medicaid Innovation

The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization that provides independent, nonpartisan information and analysis to inform Medicaid policy and improve the health of the nation.


Media contact:

Lydia Tonkonow