Expanding access to care through whole-person health in underserved communities

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic may be taking a toll on many people — from affecting their physical health and well-being to mental health, struggles with isolation and food security. As communities work to navigate the effects of the pandemic, UnitedHealthcare is helping to expand access to care by supporting programming that works to address the holistic needs of those we serve.

In fact, 80% of what influences a person’s health happens outside of a clinical setting. This means having access to nutritious food, affordable housing and transportation, as well as the neighborhoods where they live, have a major impact on one’s overall health and quality of life.

Those factors, known as the social determinants of health, contribute to inequities and gaps in care. They may also increase the risk of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

A young family cooks together in the kitchen A young family cooks together in the kitchen

With this in mind, UnitedHealthcare awarded $11.4 million in Empowering Health grants across 18 states and the District of Columbia earlier this summer to help address these needs for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

Some of the nonprofit organizations that received those grants include:

  • Healthier Moms and Babies, to expand the Prenatal Home Visitation Program for high-risk low-income families in Allen County, Indiana.
  • Mental Health America of South Central Kansas, to support three programs that address social isolation and behavioral health, including the development of a youth-led program focused on peer-to-peer relationships.

“We were overwhelmed with excitement to learn of this funding partnership with UnitedHealthcare,” said Mary Jones, the president and CEO of Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. “These three programs will enhance and broaden the services in South Central Kansas, especially given a time of increased isolation. We are so excited for the opportunity.”

  • Gleaners Community Food Bank, to expand the mobile food pantry program and create a guide for developing long-term relationships with school districts in Michigan to help families experiencing food insecurity.

“This funding comes at an important time for Gleaners,” said Cecile Aitchison, the vice president of development for Gleaners Community Food Bank. “This guide will serve as a resource to other food banks on best practices for partnering with school districts to identify families in need. Our ultimate goal is increasing the educational success of the next generation.”

  • The Just One Project, to help give low-income families in Nevada access to healthy food and provide wrap-around services through case management, including supplemental nutrition assistance, transportation resources, health care referrals and financial education.

“We believe it takes just one to make a difference and we are so grateful to UnitedHealthcare for making such an incredible impact on our organization,” said Brooke Neubauer, the founder and CEO of The Just One Project. “Thank you for believing in joining our mission.”

  • General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, to implement a healthy food distribution program with faith-based organizations to help low-income individuals and families access healthy food and fresh produce from Black-owned farms.
  • Community Crisis Services, to help provide mental health first-aid training to first responders and other community members in Maryland.
  • Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, to support navigators for refugee families in New York to conduct health and mental health screenings, make referrals, manage cases, accompany clients to appointments and encourage medication compliance.

"Refugees are the internationally homeless," said Michael F. Melara, the executive director of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. "With the support of UnitedHealthcare, we will provide trained navigators to assist refugees in gaining access to necessary health and mental health services, making the task of starting a new life a bit easier for them and their families."

Since launching its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, UnitedHealthcare has invested more than $40 million in Empowering Health grants, reaching more than 6 million people through partnerships with community-based organizations in 29 states.

Find out more about UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to Empowering Health and watch a video of the impact it’s having in the communities we serve.