By: Bill Friedman 

In an industry loaded with many hundreds of vendors, it is no surprise that there are a host of conferences targeting health payers. However, year after year, there are only a few special events that bring almost the entire industry together. In a year like 2024, with a multitude of significant regulatory changes and increased utilization putting pressure on margins, payers needed a celebratory event. With AHIP occurring only a few days after Medicare Advantage bid submissions were due, it was a good opportunity for payer teams to take a break, reevaluate, chat with their industry friends and start looking at what’s new for 2025. 

At Wider Circle, the topic that kept coming up in our booth was D-SNP. This year CMS announced a regulatory roadmap that marks a significant change in their Duals strategy. It creates a pathway to 2030, when Duals members must be enrolled in a D-SNP plan. The new regulations also limit which carriers will be able to offer a D-SNP product to ensure that only plans that offer both Medicaid and Medicare may enroll Duals. We had many conversations with plans about how our Connect for Life program can help D-SNP members achieve better health, improve social connection and help close their gaps in care. We saw a variety of representatives from the healthcare ecosystem — from plan employees, to analysts, to C-Suite — walking the aisles as everyone in the industry looks to see what’s new and what is next. 

In general, we saw plenty of optimism, despite the headwinds we have all heard about. In our session, hosted by Wider Circle CEO Darin Buxbaum, we discussed how our Connect for Life program can help address the new rules around health equity, and how it leverages its human-to-human connections to address SDoH while supporting members in the communities where they live.  

Approximately 50 people joined us to learn more about Wider Circle and the member experience from our panelists, Dr Tom Carlough, Wider Circle CTO and from Kathleen Ellmore, our industry expert from Engagys. In one interesting exchange, Tom asked the audience, “If a stranger called and asked you to go white water rafting, would you?” Most of the audience said no. He then asked, “What if a friend called and asked the same question?” A few more folks said they would join. He then asked the audience, “What if your friend called and said, ‘Me and four other of your friends from college are going this Saturday…would you join us?’” Most people said yes.  

That was a key moment as the audience realized the power of the group suggestion. At Wider Circle, we leverage social groups and people-to-people connections to move the needle on healthcare, because that is how you move people to action… not by a stranger calling to tell you it is time for your colonoscopy. Brilliant job, Tom, on capturing the whole premise of our Connect for Life program in just a couple of sentences! 

Please don’t have a team of strangers calling members telling them it is time for this test or that. To move the needle, employ the power of friendship and the motivation of social groups. 

Couldn’t make it to AHIP? We have plenty of time to chat offline… but watch the clock. AEP will be here soon. What is your team going to do differently this year? Reach out to to learn more.  

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About the author: SVM Wider Circle