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March 22, 2010

Analysis Provides Snapshot of Health Care Access Program

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released the first report to evaluate the Healthy Howard Health Plan (HHHP). The report, “Healthy Howard Health Plan: A summary of inaugural members’ demographics and health goals," outlines HHHP member demographics, reported health status, health behaviors and priority health goals.

Established in 2009, HHHP is a public-private health care program designed to provide an affordable and comprehensive network of health care services along with health coaching to Howard County residents who do not have access to health insurance through their employer  and cannot afford to purchase private coverage, but make too much money to qualify for state or federal programs.

"We know that there are negative health consequences associated with being uninsured and we know that health behaviors like physical inactivity, inadequate diet and tobacco use are leading causes of chronic diseases, disability and premature deaths," said David Holtgrave, PhD, co-author of the report and professor and chair of the Bloomberg School's Department of Health, Behavior and Society. "While baseline data from members paint a picture of a population at risk, it also appears to be a group likely to benefit from the services and coaching offered by a program such as HHHP."

Researchers examined HHHP member data and found that member demographics were similar to other county residents. However, HHHP member income was significantly lower than their county counterparts. In comparison, HHHP member income was similar to that of the average uninsured American. The report indicates that most members are from working families with a history of previous health coverage and are at risk for future health problems. Many members are already working with health coaches to change health behaviors and improve their living and working conditions.

"The previously uninsured who joined HHHP likely represent those with a great number of health challenges in the county," said Peter L. Beilenson, MD, Howard County Health Officer and Chairman of the Board for Healthy Howard, Inc. This report "shows us that even in a healthy and affluent county, health disparities exist."

Researchers believe the plan could serve as an example for establishing similar programs at the local, state and federal levels and are planning future long-term evaluations to monitor HHHP's impact on member health outcomes.

The full report and executive summary are available for download below.

Healthy Howard Health Plan: A summary of inaugural members’ demographics and health goals

Executive Summary

Public Affairs media contact for JHSPH: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.

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