Identifying and Addressing Social Isolation

Background

Social isolation—or the real lack of meaningful contacts with others—is a significant risk factor for health conditions like heart disease, infections, depression, and premature cognitive decline. It is also linked to higher risk for premature death. Older adults may be especially at risk for social isolation because they are more likely to have experiences that diminish their social contacts—like the death of a spouse or friends and the onset of health problems that impede their ability to socialize. Not only is social isolation bad for health, but it is also costly. Recent research associates social isolation among community-dwelling fee-for-service Medicare Authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people under age 65. This federal program consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part… beneficiaries age 65 and older with $6.5 billion per year in extra Medicare Authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people under age 65. This federal program consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part… spending. That is comparable to additional program spending for people with arthritis or high blood pressure.

 

IDENTIFYING AND ADDRESSING SOCIAL ISOLATION: Policy

Social isolation as a public health issue

In this policy: FederalStateLocal

Public health officials and policymakers should recognize social isolation as an important public health issue and social determinant of health and develop evidence-based strategies to identify, address, and track the problem on a population level.

Screening tools and interventions

In this policy: FederalStateLocal

Policymakers and the private sector should develop a standardized screening tool to identify individuals experiencing social isolation and develop effective interventions. Both the tool and the interventions should be evidence-based.

Coverage for social isolation assessment and interventions

In this policy: FederalStateLocal

Medicare Authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people under age 65. This federal program consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part… , Medicaid, and other payers should reimburse providers for the use of a standardized tool (including during “Welcome to Medicare Authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people under age 65. This federal program consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part… ” and Annual Wellness visits). Payers should also cover evidence-based interventions.