UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health commitment is focused on redefining health access and addressing the social determinants of health through investments, innovation and volunteerism.
UnitedHealthcare is a health care company – not just a health insurance company. UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to redefine health access and address the social determinants of health through its Empowering Health social impact commitment which focuses on innovations, investments and volunteerism.
There are many ways UnitedHealthcare is tackling social determinants of health and, across the board, data and technology play a critical role. One initiative we’ve launched to address social determinants of health is through innovations around data capture and processing. We’re leveraging self-reported social barriers to care to trigger referrals to local and national services that help address these barriers by working closely with social and government organizations to connect people to much-needed assistance right in their communities. From Jan. 2017 – Dec. 2018, we made more than 560,000 referrals for our Medicare Advantage members, representing a social value of more than $250M. We’re also working to patent our social valuation model, Imputed Market PriceTM, and standardize this approach for the industry. In addition, we announced our collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA) to develop 23 new ICD-10 codes tied to social determinants of health.
UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health commitment also recognizes that access to safe, affordable housing is one of the greatest barriers to better health. In fact, 14.5M Americans lack access to stable housing. To address this issue, UnitedHealthcare has invested more than $400M since 2011 to build 80 affordable housing communities across 18 states, creating more than 4,500 new homes for individuals and families in need, including seniors, military veterans, people living with disabilities and those struggling with homelessness.
Through “Do Good. Live Well.,” UnitedHealthcare’s employee volunteer initiative, our employees are building healthier communities. Since 2009, volunteers have provided more than 12M meals, logged over 61,000 volunteer hours and have achieved two Guinness World Records titles.
Uniqueness of the project
Traditionally, the health care industry’s primary focus was on managing medical costs after a person becomes ill, but Empowering Health showcases UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to be more proactive. It focuses on factors outside of a clinical setting that might be affecting a person’s ability to effectively take care of their health before health conditions and problems arise.
Our work leveraging data and technology to address social determinants of health is truly industry-leading and has garnered significant industry support. On March 6, 2019, we presented a recommendation to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ICD-10 Steering and Maintenance Committee to add 23 new codes to the ICD-10 code set. While the current code set includes some social determinants of health codes, additional codes are needed to drive a consistent, organized way to capture this information. These proposed codes would drive this consistency and help people access the services they need but may not be receiving currently or know they have access to. Across the industry, organizations and government agencies such as the Better Medicare Alliance, National Center for Quality Assurance (NCQA), National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and the AARP Foundation have recognized and supported the innovation and value of this work.
Access to affordable housing, one of the greatest barriers to better health for many people, is another area where UnitedHealthcare is playing a critical role. While our $400M in affordable housing investments are primarily to expand access to housing for people in need, the impact we’re making is much greater. Many of the 80 affordable housing communities these investments have helped build feature a range of on-site amenities and services including clinical health care services, social and support counseling, job training, academic support and adult education classes, childcare, computer labs and playgrounds. These investments are truly helping to make it easier for people to live healthier.