Promoting Civic Involvement: UCare
Since its founding in 1984, Minneapolis-based UCare has had a mission to provide health care coverage to vulnerable and marginalized people. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, the nonprofit insurer knew it needed to go above and beyond to help its customers.
Many of UCare’s members have struggled or currently struggle to find access to health care. This was never truer than in 2020 and 2021, when Covid and protests forced many clinics and pharmacies to close, says Hilary Marden-Resnik, interim president and CEO. BIPOC communities whom UCare serves were hit particularly hard by Covid, in Minnesota and nationwide.
UCare developed a full-throttle response to help customers protect themselves from the deadly virus. As many of its 630,000 members struggled to get vaccinated, UCare used its relationships with community groups, clinics, and health care systems to hold 80 vaccination clinics. Overall, UCare vaccinated 8,300 people in Minnesota.
“We decided this was something we needed to do because our community had a need,” Marden-Resnik says. “We had the ability to intervene with a depth of understanding that would make a real difference in their lives.”
UCare convened a response team of bilingual community health care personnel and social workers who helped members arrange for vaccines, lined up transportation, and sent reminders for first and second doses. It distributed care kits with masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes—especially critical when these items were in short supply.
In addition, UCare disseminated information on Covid prevention measures through emails, web content, postcards, and booklets. Partnering with Sahan Journal, UCare created educational videos in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali to answer common questions and dispel misinformation.
Going the extra mile for its members is just a day in the life of UCare’s 1,200-member workforce. “Our employees believe in our mission, and they work to put that mission into action,” Marden-Resnik says. “Our response to support our members during the pandemic is work our employees do every day.”
Aiming to help its customers lead healthy and productive lives, UCare offers atypical programs for an insurance provider. For 20 years, its mobile dental unit has brought dental care to UCare members living in underserved communities, in partnership with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. UCare also provides free bilingual test preparation to help members complete their GED.
UCare prides itself as a pillar of the community, serving 400,000 Medicaid clients, as well as Medicare clients and family and individual health plan members. It has grown rapidly in the last five years, increasing revenue from $3 billion to $5 billion and expanding from 150,000 total members to 630,000. Some of that growth came when the federal government expanded access to Medicaid during the pandemic.
New business lines and geographies served—all backed by UCare’s commitment to improving access to fair and equitable insurance—have contributed too, Marden-Resnik says: “We’re honored to be recognized for making Minnesota a better place to live, because that is why we exist and do what we do.”