Health Tech, Payers

Elevance Health To Offer Smartphones to Some Medicaid Members

Elevance Health will provide smartphones with unlimited data, talk and text to some Medicaid members in 2024, it announced at CES 2024.

Elevance Health will launch a new program that will provide smartphones with unlimited data, talk and text for no cost to some Medicaid members, the company announced Wednesday at CES 2024 in Las Vegas. It will help patients access virtual healthcare tools that may have been previously inaccessible, Elevance said.

Indianapolis, Indiana-based Elevance Health is a health insurer that serves about 117 million people. The company’s new program is in partnership with Samsung, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. It is supported with funding from the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The program will be available in multiple states in 2024 and aims to reach “hundreds of thousands of members within Elevance Health’s affiliated Medicaid plans,” according to a news release.

During a fireside chat at CES, Elevance President and CEO Gail Boudreaux stressed the importance of partnership in addressing issues with healthcare access. This program helps achieve that.

“[This is] a partnership that you wouldn’t think of normally,” Boudreaux said. “It’s outside of healthcare per se, but I think there’s a big opportunity to make that digital divide smaller across populations.”

The smartphones given to Medicaid members will allow them to reach their Medicaid health plan care team, which can address their health needs. They’ll also receive educational materials that explain how to use the device. In addition, members will be able to contact a customer service call center for help if required.

“Increased availability of digital technologies, such as a smartphone, as well as fast, reliable internet is critical to supporting a person’s health journey,” said Omid Toloui, vice president of innovation at Elevance Health, in a statement. “We believe the digital tools and the custom, curated experience offered through this program can help improve health, make healthcare more affordable, and serve people more equitably.”

The program comes at a time of immense need for many Americans. About a quarter of U.S. adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year do not have a smartphone, and 43% don’t have home broadband internet services, according to Elevance. Half of these individuals blame the cost of connectivity for these issues.

“The lack of sufficient internet connectivity and technology access remains a significant barrier for many – increasing health inequities,” said Kurt Small, president of Elevance Health’s Medicaid business, in a statement. “This program aims to directly address this challenge and helps improve the health of the people we serve.”

To participate in the program, individuals will work with their Elevance-affiliated Medicaid plan to determine if they’re eligible.

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