Under Affordable Care Act, Growing Use of ‘Community Health Workers’

Source: Michael Ollove, Stateline, July 8, 2016

….Many now recognize that providing good health care has to go beyond the doctor’s office — especially for minorities and low-income people. Limited access to healthy food, environmental perils, crime, insecure housing, insufficient recreational opportunities and the absence of affordable transportation all can have a huge effect on a person’s health. These factors, often called the social determinants of health, are hard for clinicians to address during medical appointments. To contend with them, hospitals, community health clinics, public health agencies and some health plans are increasingly turning to community health workers like Nelson. Thanks in part to federal grants awarded under the Affordable Care Act, the number of community health workers is growing. In 2015, there were 48,000 of them working in the U.S., up from 38,000 three years earlier, a 27 percent increase, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But many insurers still don’t cover their services, limiting their potential impact…..