Special Needs Initiative expands to help more families with complex health needs

The health care system can often be confusing to navigate, especially if you or a loved one is managing a complex or challenging medical condition.

To help remove barriers to care and assist people with making more informed health care decisions while on complex care journeys, UnitedHealthcare is enhancing its customer care resources to make it easier for eligible members to navigate the health system. 

The Special Needs Initiative (SNI) as well as the Complex Care Concierge (C3), which serves adults with complex health needs, recently expanded to help people with sickle cell disease, childhood obesity and members of the LGBTQIA+ community access the care they need. Since the SNI program began, it has supported more than 200,000 families with a wide range of complex health needs including autism, Down syndrome and genetic disorders. This recent expansion helps ensure additional complex or underserved populations receive the support they need.  

“Our goal is to help better support these families and ease their worries,” said Rebecca Madsen, chief executive officer of advocacy for UnitedHealthcare’s commercial business. “We want to more effectively support them by providing a point person to help with navigating all the complexities of the health care system — everything from claims to benefits to finding the right care providers.”

The SNI team uses analytics to help identify eligible members with special health care needs and then assigns a designated Advisor, who provides information and support to help them make more informed health decisions.

This Advisor can help support everyone in the family (not just the member), take responsibility for each inquiry that surfaces along a care path and help drive improved coordination with the member’s care team.

The SNI team is dedicated to identifying additional people with complex or challenging health care needs who could benefit from advocacy services, where the Family Engagement Center has the tools and resources to help elevate the level of support, whether it’s administrative, clinical or due to barriers from social drivers of health.

People with sickle cell disease, a group of inherited red blood cell disorders, may result in a number of complications, including chronic, severe pain and infection. Patients with this condition may also face social stigma, due to a lack of understanding, diagnostic challenges and limited treatment.

Across America, LGBTQIA+ patients experience dramatic disparities in health care. For example, transgender patients may experience microaggressions, misgendering and harassment from care providers, medical staff and fellow patients. These inequities can present barriers when it comes to accessing quality health care.

Expanding the Special Needs Initiative and C3 to assist LGBTQIA+ members and people living with sickle cell disease can help create better, more streamlined health care experiences through dedicated advocates who understand their needs.

This improved care coordination for employers engaged in these health plans has resulted in an increase in member satisfaction.

More information on the Special Needs Initiative and UnitedHealthcare’s advocacy initiatives is available at uhc.com/advocacy.

Sign up to get the latest news from the UnitedHealthcare Newsroom