Opinion: Empowering health in Arizona

At UnitedHealthcare, we serve our members from their earliest years through their working lives and into retirement, with the mission to help people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone. Providing for the health care coverage needs of more than 1.5 million commercial, Medicaid and Medicare members in Arizona gives us a unique line of sight across the entire health care system.

We see the possibilities, the opportunities and the challenges for reaching better health.

We understand that the biggest stressors on the system are the underlying factors such as a lack of affordable housing, homelessness, food insecurity, childhood obesity, unemployment, unreliable transportation, social isolation and depression among seniors. Also known as the social determinants of health, these factors can not only negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health, but they also undermine our state and nation’s ability to keep health care costs under control.

Making sure that communities facing these obstacles can access the social services they need is one of the most consequential health challenges of our time. It is critical to the sustainability of the entire health system. To truly make a difference, we have to redefine what constitutes health care and how people access it. We believe that UnitedHealthcare has a positive role to play in this vital work.

At UnitedHealthcare, we are committed to working in partnership with local community leaders to tackle these challenges for uninsured and vulnerable people. That’s why we have introduced UnitedHealthcare Empowering Health, a commitment to expand access to care and to address the social determinants of health. We are doing this by investing in this state and others, and working in lockstep with grassroots organizations on the frontlines of social service to those in need and those working to implement innovative solutions.

  • In 2016, UnitedHealthcare established a unique partnership with Chicanos Por La Causa to build and maintain affordable housing and support services for individuals who lack stable housing in Phoenix.
  • Between 2016 and 2018, UnitedHealth Group and the United Health Foundation have awarded more than $6.4 million to non-profit organizations delivering health programs to communities in Arizona.
  • In 2018 alone, we committed $2 million in social investment grants to four community–based organizations. As a result, we believe we positively influenced the health and welfare of more than a half million individuals throughout this state.
  • In 2019, we are expanding these grant partnerships to additional grassroots organizations in order to help even more people in need across Arizona.

And, on September 12, building on an effort we launched in 2018, we brought together first responders, non-profits, social service and health care leaders, state and local officials to brainstorm opportunities for positive change in the health care system. They provided unique perspectives on the greatest challenges and opportunities for new and innovative solutions, including radically different models of care. We are hopeful that, by working together with these partners, we can support better health for the highest risk populations and eventually lower the overall cost of health care for the benefit of individuals, families and communities across our state.

We wish to thank those who recognize the importance of this work and its potential to help underserved communities and our state at-large.

Joe Gaudio
Community Plan of Arizona

Heather Kane
Employer & Individual of Arizona, New Mexico

George Young
Medicare & Retirement of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado

Guest Contributor

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