The nation’s largest health insurer is committing $100 million over a decade to advance health equity, an effort taking on greater importance for those who provide and pay for medical care in the U.S.
UnitedHealth executives said the effort, which will be directed to helping build a “racially and ethnically diverse workforce” is the largest ever commitment from the healthcare giant’s philanthropic arm, The United Health Foundation, executives announced Wednesday at the Social Innovation Summit in Washington.
“Through philanthropic programs and partnerships, the funding will provide scholarships and support to 10,000 underrepresented future clinicians and upskilling health professionals to help in obtaining academic degrees or other professional credentials for clinical careers in medicine, nursing, midwifery, mental health and other specialties,” UnitedHealth said in a statement.
The effort comes as medical care providers and health plans are stepping up their efforts to address social determinants of health and making sure communities that have long been considered medically underserved and lacking access to treatment are better served. In UnitedHealth’s effort to address equity, allocating more resources to underrepresented caregivers is seen as critical.
UnitedHealth is both a provider of medical care services and a payer for healthcare services and employs tens of thousands of clinicians throughout its operation. The company owns the health insurer UnitedHealthcare and Optum, a healthcare services giant that owns and operates doctor practices, outpatient care operations and surgery centers.
Key areas of focus for the financial commitment will be to train underrepresented students in health care technology fields and develop the next generation health care workforce, which will in part work to increase primary care providers in underserved communities.
“Today, there are far too many barriers to good health that are disproportionately experienced by people of color, historically marginalized groups, and those with lower incomes,” UnitedHealth Group chief sustainability officer Patricia Lewis said. “We are committed to leading the way, along with our partner organizations, in deploying tools, talent and resources to actively break down barriers, broaden access to care and make it easier for people to live healthier.”