By: William Friedman, VP of Payer Engagement at Wider Circle

It seems that every article you read about healthcare these days is focused on cybersecurity and AI. While these hot button issues are certainly important, today’s health payers have many other critical topics that are top of mind as well. Our Wider Circle team has traveled around the country in the first quarter of 2024 connecting with health payers and other influential leaders in the healthcare sector to learn from each other about what’s impacting plan members and how we can overcome those obstacles together. In Q1 alone, over 150 health payer executives attended our Wider Circle sessions.

From conference to conference and event to event, we found there are four common key challenges health payers, and their members are facing: Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), Loneliness and Social Isolation, Health Equity, and Quality and Retention. To best serve members, it’s crucial to understand how these challenges are being addressed.

Quality & Retention

Delivering a superior member experience is as critical for health payers as it is for any consumer-focused organization. According to a recent study by JAMA Health Forum, about 50% of Medicare Advantage members disenrolled after five years. Health payers should consider the impact of building community support systems as a vital avenue for helping enhance health outcomes by keeping members engaged with their healthcare journey. Retaining members and delivering quality service at each touchpoint allows health payers to continue delivering the member experience that their members deserve.


Social determinants of health play a major role in public health. Members of underserved populations often have SDoH needs such as housing, transportation, and food insecurity, which directly impacts their overall health and wellness. These factors can make even the smallest of tasks a monumental hurdle and creates a further divide in health equity.

By having resources to connect members with appropriate community-based organizations such as local housing authorities, food pantries and tailored interventions to meet specific community needs, health payers can help address these issues and improve members’ quality of life so they can properly focus on their well-being.

Loneliness & Social Isolation

A major public health concern arose repeatedly in conversations this quarter: loneliness and social isolation. With some demographic groups being more susceptible to these conditions than others, it’s important for health payers to help address these issues hyper locally in the communities where their members live. According to the CDC, older adults, individuals living alone, people with disabilities, and marginalized communities are more at risk for developing feelings of loneliness and being socially isolated. Wider Circle’s Connect for Life (CFL) program helps reach out and activate members, as well as connect them with their neighbors to build trust, friendships, and a vital support system.

Health Equity

In addressing SDoH, health payers are also striving to attain health equity where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The consequences of inequitable strategies have far-reaching effects on both public health and the economy. This is evident as marginalized communities face increased rates of preventable illnesses, reduced life expectancy, and consequently, higher healthcare costs, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine. By making changes to address these inequities now, health payers can help improve overall health outcomes for the members they serve. In addition, CMS has begun to emphasize a Health Equity Index as part of their Medicare Advantage, STAR Rating Program.

We’re proud of the partnerships Wider Circle has established with payers around the country to make a difference in members’ lives, and how the company has continued to grow its visibility in the marketplace. Many of our new customer relationships had their genesis at 2023 conferences and we look forward to meeting with health payers to network and learn from each other again at events throughout 2024.

Did you miss an opportunity to connect with the Wider Circle team at an event in Q1? Let’s keep the conversations going! Reach out today and follow us on LinkedIn to see where the Wider Circle team is headed next.

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About the author: SVM Wider Circle

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