The payer has donated to more than 80 affordable-housing communities across the US to address the social determinants of health.
UnitedHealthcare recently announced that it has invested more than $400 million to address the social determinants of health and increase affordable housing access for people in underserved communities.
The healthcare payer has invested in more than 80 affordable-housing communities across the US, with more than 4500 homes for people in need.
The announcement coincides with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the PATH Metro Villas, a new housing center funded by a $12 million grant from UnitedHealthcare. The 65-unit center will help reduce homelessness among individuals and families in Los Angeles.
The company stated that when homeless people have access to stable housing, they can manage their health more effectively. Citing its own Medicaid data, UnitedHealthcare noted that in one state, emergency room admissions dropped 60 percent and total cost of care was cut in half for people who enrolled in a housing program.
“Access to safe and affordable housing is one of the greatest obstacles to better health, making it a social determinant that affects people’s well-being and quality of life,” said Steve Nelson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare.
“UnitedHealthcare partners with other socially minded organizations that understand the value of good health, and how public-private partnerships like these can succeed in helping make a positive impact in our communities.”
UnitedHealthcare began its initiative to increase housing access in 2011, working with affordable-housing advocates and investing in developments that would increase access to housing, healthcare, and social services.
The company has made investments through national and regional affordable-housing organizations, including Enterprise Community Investment, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, US Bank, and many others.
“Enterprise and our partners like UnitedHealthcare are making a seismic shift in the health and housing sectors,” said Charlie Werhane, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Investment.
“Together, we are putting health at the center of developing well-designed affordable homes, and elevating them as an essential tool for improving people’s health.”
The link between housing stability and overall health has been widely studied. In 2017, the American Hospital Association reported that over 1.48 million people experience homelessness each year, and these individuals are much more susceptible to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, or tuberculosis.
AHA also noted that the homeless population is more apt to develop substance abuse disorder or mental illness due to their living conditions.
As part of UnitedHealthcare’s affordable housing initiative, the payer has invested in new communities that include on-site amenities and services, such as clinical healthcare services, social support counseling and monitoring, job training, adult education courses, and childcare.
Among UnitedHealthcare’s investments is Capital Studios in Austin, Texas, the first affordable-housing unit built in the city in 45 years. UnitedHealthcare invested $11.7 million to build the development, 25 percent of which is reserved for homeless individuals.
The company also invested $14.5 million to build two affordable-housing communities in Minneapolis, which serve to help military veterans and their families struggling with homelessness. The communities offer on-site supportive services and access to veteran health and social service programs.
Affordable housing is just one element of UnitedHealthcare’s efforts to address the social determinants of health. The company has previously awarded grants to the Association of Arizona Foodbanks to combat food insecurity, as well as VisionQuest and 20/20 and Brighter Way of Arizona to offer dental and vision screenings and immunizations.
“UnitedHealthcare’s investments in affordable housing recognize the important connection in managing the social determinants that influence well-being,” said Warren Hanson, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund president and CEO.
“It’s difficult for many families to think about a job, school or their family’s health without reliable housing. UnitedHealthcare understands that link and has been an important partner in making a positive impact across the country.”
Date: April 08, 2019