When it comes to innovative thinking about how the nation’s health can be improved, UnitedHealthcare is broadening the boundaries of what previously has been considered “health related” factors.
Texas is home to an innovative new initiative being spearheaded by UnitedHealthcare to address other life factors that may directly or indirectly affect a person’s health – in this case, housing.
“Expanding access to affordable housing is important in breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty and helping people live healthier lives,” said Donald Langer, president of UnitedHealthcare Community & State of Texas. (source)
Partnering with homeless coalitions in Austin and Houston, UnitedHealthcare may even help some members address barriers to stable housing, such as purchasing furniture or paying for moving costs.
The pilot program initially will serve about 20 members. UnitedHealthcare has invested $11.7 million in Austin’s Capital Studios community, which will open in the fall of 2015 and provide low-income and homeless housing. Serving the health needs of more than 4 million Texans, UnitedHealthcare has identified 300 of its members in Austin and another 3,000 members in Houston who are either homeless or relying on some type of housing assistance.
A number of homeless advocates and hospital groups have advocated in recent years for the inclusion of safe and stable housing as an important contributor to the health and well-being of families.
A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review says that UnitedHealthcare’s initiative aligns with what experts say is “a shift in U.S. healthcare policy” that is “widening the notion of what services are considered healthcare, and could lead policymakers to better address poverty, nutrition, housing and other social determinants of health. (source)