UnitedHealthcare has donated $30,000 to help two Missouri organizations' efforts to promote health literacy and support transportation programming for low-income families.
Health Literacy Missouri (HLM) received a $15,000 grant to support efforts to help Medicaid-eligible consumers in medically underserved communities access and understand their health benefits. The grant will enable HLM to host a series of focus groups with Medicaid consumers, uninsured community members, and health care professionals, providing an opportunity for HLM to identify barriers to care and help improve health literacy by addressing gaps in consumer knowledge about health care.
These focus groups will take place in southeastern Missouri – a region in which more than 40 percent of the population live at or below national poverty levels, and where health care access issues, including health literacy, have been linked to health disparities. This project will generate a deeper understanding of the barriers to care in this underserved, rural region, with the ultimate goal of improving consumer satisfaction and health outcomes.
"We are excited to partner with UnitedHealthcare on this important project," said Catina O'Leary, Ph.D., LMSW, HLM president and CEO. "Interacting with Missourians in this way will give us a much deeper understanding of the attitudes and feelings in communities that affect health care access and use."
Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA) received a $15,000 grant for its HealthTran initiative to help address transportation issues for Medicaid and Medicare dual-eligible plan participants in rural south-central Missouri counties. The grant will fund direct transportation support for approximately 100 people who are unable to access Missouri's Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) program and do not have financial resources for health-related transportation.
HealthTran's trained Health-Transportation Coordinators identify and electronically refer qualified patients to the transportation provider that can best meet their needs. MRHA intends to improve access to primary and preventive care, as well as reduce unnecessary use of the emergency room.
"Transportation is more than getting a patient from one destination to another; it is also about effective disease management. If a patient can't get to treatment, they can't get well," said Doris Boeckman, MRHA Rides to Wellness director.
Missouri ranked 36th out of 50 states for overall health, according to the 2015 America's Health Rankings® report, which also noted that Missouri was in the bottom half of the country on measures including public health funding (46th), lack of health insurance (29th) and disparity of health status by education level (28th).
"We are grateful for the opportunity to provide additional resources to organizations that help families live healthier lives and that extend the reach of critical programs and services, particularly for our state's underserved populations," said Yasmine Winkler, central region CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State.
UnitedHealthcare serves more than 1.3 million Missourians enrolled in employer-sponsored, individual, Medicare and TRICARE health plans with a network of 162 hospitals and nearly 26,000 physicians and other care providers statewide. UnitedHealth Group and its companies employ more than 3,200 Missourians – including nearly 1,800 employees hired since 2013.
HLM is a St. Louis-based nonprofit communications firm that specializes in clear health communications. Founded in 2009, HLM partners with health care providers, advocates, and organizations that want people to feel better, systems to work and flow better, and materials to make more sense. By integrating evidence-based health literacy principles, HLM develops customized communications, assessments, and education that help its partner organizations best serve people with diverse levels of health literacy. When health information and services are more accessible, more people can make good health decisions every day.
MRHA members recognize the many challenges of rural Missouri and are addressing concerns by gathering and sharing relevant data to help make informed decisions and direct policy changes, strengthen peer networks, and challenge public and private funding sources to invest more in rural communities. MRHA serves as the voice for rural health issues and in 2016 has identified improved access to care through transportation its foremost priority. To learn more, visit the website at www.morha.org.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.