While African Americans only make up 13.4 percent of America’s population, the cause of death due to health disparities and  inequities is considered to be much higher than their white counterparts. 

United Healthcare Insurance Group is working to change that by educating Senior Citizens that identify with the African American Community on ways they as a people could take care of themselves outside of annual checkups. 

 This is done through United HealthCare’s second virtual health program known as “A Better You.”

 “I think the beauty of this is that this program is a health and wellness educational program that helps those souls who are approaching retirement,”  Rita Tolbert, the Director of Multicultural Marketing at UnitedHealthcare stated.

Tolbert  believes that is more than just learning about health and wellness ,but educating caregivers and senior citizens on Medicare eligibility and other health care options. 

The program prides themselves on making those resources and information available to those who deem themselves unknowledgeable when making their own healthcare decisions. 

“They’ve got to be their own advocates. What we are doing here is providing the tools and the resources for them to equip themselves and educate themselves so that they can be their own best advocates,” Tolbert emphasized when speaking on the lack of communication between health care providers and the beneficiaries. 

 United Healthcare had to change the way they made this information available in 2020 due to COVID-19.

 “Since the pandemic, we have had to pivot, so that we can find ways that African Americans can safely access this information and make those informed decisions,” Tolbert said. 

 Originally, this information was distributed in the form of workshops, the company traveling to different communities across the country, and partnerships with AARP. 

 AARP is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals over the age of 50 to choose how they live as they continue to age. 

 Tolbert works closely with AARP in her division of work. She knows that United HealthCare and AARP work extremely close together  to provide their  target audience with the information that they need. 

 “We’re providing all kinds of services and products, all the retirement suite of products,Medicare portfolios, Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug plans, and the Medicare supplement plans. We also have other supplemental plans for people who are less than 65, but we provide the whole portfolio of Medicare products and services to those that are AARP members,” Tolbert said.

 “UnitedHealthcare is proud to continue to support Medicare-eligible African Americans by expanding the A Better You program to include health and wellness educational content on demand. UnitedHealthcare is making every effort to protect the health of their community while still enabling access to culturally relevant services and programs,” the insurance company said in a statement. 

 “During this Health Literacy Month, we are committed to improving health literacy in our multicultural communities,” said Tolbert. “It’s important for you to understand this stuff, because once you are equipped, and you know the information, you know more about Medicare, then you can ask the right questions.”

Tolbert continued, “You may not know everything, but we give you enough to equip you to start asking the right questions and getting more confident about the decisions that you’re going to make so that someone doesn’t drag you into this.”

 

(Ernestine Shepherd, 85-year-old record-breaking bodybuilder, and Yohnnie Shambourger, former Mr. Universe and Ernestine’s personal trainer. Photo Credit: Courtesy of United HealthCare Insurance Group)

Alexis Grace is a recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a current Graduate student at Agnes Scott College. During and after her time at CAU, she has worked and interned for several publications...