Advancing Health Equity

Stemming from our long-standing belief that all individuals should have access to high-quality, affordable health care that meets their unique health care needs, UnitedHealth Group is deeply committed to advancing health equity in the U.S. and around the world.

Our 330,000 team members are dedicated to fulfilling the opportunity and responsibility we have to meaningfully contribute to advancing health equity, addressing health disparities and closing gaps in care for the most vulnerable populations.

For more than two decades, UnitedHealth Group has led efforts to identify, monitor and address health disparities – in collaboration with community organizations and national partners – to advance health equity. While we have made measurable progress, much more is needed to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity.

Eliminating health disparities would reduce health care costs by

$230B

over four years

Delivering Personalized Care Based On An Individual’S Needs

Different communities have different needs, and we are working to meet the unique needs of people by providing care and services tailored to each individual. Research shows eliminating health disparities would reduce indirect costs associated with disease and mortality.

Seeking to spur innovation around health equity, UnitedHealth Group established a Health Equity Services Program more than a decade ago. This initiative has identified several opportunities to better understand our members’ unique needs, identify gaps in care and deliver tailored health solutions.

Through that program, we developed health disparity action plans for all UnitedHealthcare Community & State health plans that focused on specific populations and health measures that need improvement. Working with community health workers in Hawaii, Michigan and Ohio, we helped identify gaps in postpartum care for Medicaid enrollees and designed culturally and regionally tailored interventions. The action plans – which earned UnitedHealthcare the CMS Health Equity Award in 2020 – significantly reduced disparities in postpartum care for underserved communities.

Health Disparity Action Plan Outcomes
  • 83% reduction in postpartum care disparities for Black women in Ohio
  • 42% reduction in postpartum care disparities for Black women in Michigan
  • 40% reduction in postpartum care disparities for rural women in Hawaii

Promoting Equity And Diversity In The Health Workforce

We are committed to developing a diverse health workforce by increasing the number of providers equipped to deliver personalized care and advancing a culture that embraces inclusion, diversity, innovation and growth.

We are helping to build the 21st century health workforce to provide culturally competent care to underserved populations.

Since 2007, the United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative has provided more than $23 million to fund nearly 3,000 scholarships for students of color pursuing careers as primary care health professionals, particularly in underserved communities.

  • 234 scholarships in 36 states provided by the Diverse Scholars Initiative in 2020

We are helping to grow a more diverse health analytics and technology workforce by partnering with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including the Atlanta University Center Consortium.

We also support students through the Optum Technology STEM program, in which Optum employees volunteer to provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics training to students underrepresented in health technology, with a focus on girls and Black and Hispanic/Latino students.

  • $10M to support health informatics training at HBCUs since 2017
  • 160 students from HBCUs enrolled in health informatics training since 2017
  • 7k+ students at 103 schools participated in Optum Technology STEM training since 2019

Improving The Health Of Underserved Communities

Individual health is deeply influenced by external factors, including one’s environment, education, housing and employment. We partner with communities nationwide to expand access to care and address the determinants of health for underserved and uninsured individuals and families.

We worked to reduce health disparities through philanthropic partnerships that address specific community health needs, including $9 million in targeted philanthropic partnerships to address localized maternal health disparities in Nevada, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington, D.C.

We also supported the Guiding Recovery and Creating Empowerment (GRACE) program at Woman’s Hospital in Louisiana, which connects women who have opioid use disorder to community resources, treatment and support throughout their pregnancy and for six weeks after giving birth.

Through a partnership with Pathways – an organization that provides mental health services in 10 counties in rural, northeastern Kentucky – we helped children in hard-to-reach communities receive needed care by improving access to telehealth.

GRACE Impact in Louisiana in 2020
  • 21% decline in NICU visits
  • 12% improvement in average birth weight
Pathways Partnership Outcomes
  • ~6.5k pediatric patients received mental health services
  • ~20k telehealth visits with children
  • 133 children diverted from the ED

Leveraging Data And Emerging Analytics To Monitor And Address Disparities In Care

We conduct research and analysis using data from across communities – with a special focus on people who have been underrepresented in or underserved by medical research – to better understand, monitor and address health disparities.

We provide insights and analyses on our nation’s health through comprehensive reports in America’s Health Rankings (AHR), which provide a detailed picture by state of disparities in health by race, ethnicity, gender, age, education and income.

Supported by the United Health Foundation, AHR has produced more than 50 reports over 31 years analyzing behavioral, environmental, social and economic factors to help public health officials, policy-makers, advocates and individuals understand the population’s health in a holistic, inclusive manner.

We’re pleased to report that in 2021, the United Health Foundation will issue a new America’s Health Rankings report – focused specifically on the breadth, depth and persistence of health disparities at the state and national levels – to provide data and insights that inform solutions for advancing health equity.

We are also studying the effects of COVID-19 on those with sickle cell. Through a partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine, we are seeking to improve access with digital tools and technologies for primary care providers in underserved communities across the Southeast.

We are engaged in research for vulnerable populations. Recognizing there is a significant racial disparity in the use of ACE inhibitors to manage hypertension, we helped rapidly scale a 10,000-person virtual clinical trial with Yale University that found seniors taking ACE inhibitors who test positive for COVID-19 are 40% less likely to need hospitalization than those who do not.