Healthcare company helping connect members with tools for success

Posted at 4:34 AM, Aug 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-28 12:03:34-04

Amanda Desmet was hopeless. A year ago, she was sleeping on concrete and felt "worthless" begging for change. 

"You feel like you're just...nothing," she told ABC15. 

A few months ago, while checking into a local shelter, she found out she'd received a message. An outreach employee with a UnitedHealthcare program called MyConnections wanted to know if she'd be interested in starting the process to get her own apartment. 

"I've only had a place to stay probably a year and a half out of the last 12 years," Desmet said. 

Today, she's among more than 40 UnitedHealthcare members living at one of two newly-renovated apartment complexes in south Phoenix and is now pursuing a degree in psychology. The insurance provider lent Chicanos Por La Causa $22 million to purchase the buildings, upgrade them and set aside 100 units for its members. 

“Transportation or housing or food — just the most simple things that you and I have a need for some of these individuals may not find them,” said Rodrigo Olivares, state director for MyConnections. 

A team of around ten outreach coordinators work on the streets and in homeless shelters, identifying members and helping them find the resources they need to succeed. 

“We have a case manager as well as a housing manager, a navigator, that helps connect them with the right place at the right time," Olivares said. 

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan CEO Joe Gaudio estimates 40 percent of healthcare costs are driven by social determinants, like someone's environment and economic factors. 

“Your health outcomes are more determined by your zip code than your genetic code,” Gaudio said. 

The company told ABC15 the west Phoenix program is a pilot and they hope to expand it further in other areas around the state.