UnitedHealthcare has donated $12.3 million to community-based organizations across 21 states as a part of its Empowering Health commitment.
The Empowering Health commitment was created to increase access to care in underserved areas as a means to address the social determinants of health.
This donation will go towards helping nonprofit organizations recover from the pandemic. Over half of the grant funds will help organizations increase their capacity to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities, according to UnitedHealthcare.
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Some of the primary needs that the donations are intended to help are food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health.
With its donations, UnitedHealthcare is supporting a number of organizations including:
- Second Harvest Heartland, Long Island Cares and other food banks such as Atlanta Community Food Bank, Kansas Food Bank, Houston Food Bank and South Plains Food Bank
- Veterans One-Stop Center in western New York, to help veterans experience social isolation
- Postpartum Resource Center of New York, which addresses perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
- House of Ruth Maryland, a system that helps victims of intimate partner violence through chat lines and outreach
- Ohio Suicide Prevention Coalition, which provides mental health and signs of suicide training for staff at youth-serving organizations
WHY THIS MATTERS
The social determinants of health – factors such as physical environment, socioeconomic level and race/ethnicity – have become an area of focus during the pandemic because of their effect on health outcomes.
"While COVID-19 has been termed a great equaliser, necessitating physical distancing measures across the globe, it is increasingly demonstrable that social inequalities in health are profoundly, and unevenly, impacting COVID-19 morbidity and mortality," a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information said.
Investing in community-based organizations that target the social determinants of health has become a major trend to minimize health disparities.
THE LARGER TREND
Besides this donation, UnitedHealthcare announced an additional $100 million to its affordable housing initiative in June. The company has invested $500 million in affordable housing across the country as a way to improve the health of communities.
Other organizations working to address the social determinants of health include Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado. The medical center partnered with the local fire department to create a program that helps guide people to the right resources, often avoiding costly emergency settings.
The government also recognizes the importance of the social determinants of health. The Department of Health and Human Services is currently holding a challenge that aims to combat the social isolation and loneliness that older adults, people with disabilities, and veterans often experience, especially during the pandemic.
ON THE RECORD
"The COVID-19 public health emergency has compounded the many challenges faced by the nation's most vulnerable residents," Kirsten Gorsuch, senior vice president of communications and social responsibility at UnitedHealthcare, said in a statement. "Our support of these organizations through the UnitedHealthcare Empowering Health commitment will help provide critical aid and resources to the communities that need it the most."
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