UnitedHealth Escalates…

UnitedHealth Group is rolling out an increasing number of partnerships to “address health equity challenges” across the U.S.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on health inequities, which are essentially avoidable differences in healthcare among different groups of people, whether it be the lack of affordable housing in a community to the availability of food. And UnitedHealth’s business update last week opened a window into the effort by health insurance companies to solve the escalating problem of inequities in healthcare.

“In just the past 6 months, we have introduced new partnerships in over 20 communities to close gaps in care and address health equity challenges,” UnitedHealth chief executive officer Andrew Witty told analysts during a call last week to discuss second quarter earnings and the company’s 2021 financial performance.

“Using data and analytics capabilities, we’re able to rapidly identify local health trends and gaps and then work with community partners to inform guidelines, training materials, processes and create better tools to advance health,” Witty added. “We believe this will result in better health for community members and help to optimize limited state resources.”

UnitedHealth’s effort comes as the company and rivals including Anthem, CVS Health’s Aetna health plan unit, Humana and others address social determinants of health as insurers intensify strategies to reduce costs and improve outcomes beyond covering traditional medical treatments.

UnitedHealth’s UnitedHealthcare health insurance unit earlier this year launched the “Community Catalyst” program, which brings together various stakeholders in communities to “identify and address specific health care needs of members of the community and residents of publicly assisted housing who are often difficult to reach and serve.”

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“These and other targeted initiatives on the social determinants of health are essential elements and illustrative of our natural and longstanding ESG (environmental, societal and governance investing) impact,” Witty told analysts of the company’s efforts to address health inequities. “Our recently published sustainability report captures the full range of efforts we have dedicated ourselves to in areas of crucial concern to our stakeholders…none more so than advancing health and health equity. This agenda is an essential part of our way of doing business.”

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