Promoting education through GED attainment as a means for better health

Victoria Grimaldi always wanted to finish her high school education but like so many others, life got in the way. With a baby on the way and a renewed focus on her future, she made a commitment to completing her GED before her baby’s arrival. Little did she know, her new health plan would help her get there.

As a new member of the Community Health Plan of Pennsylvania, Victoria was screened for social determinants of health (SDOH), in order to identify any barriers — such as food insecurity, transportation, housing or education — that may be in the way of better health. Through that process, Victoria’s advocate with her UnitedHealthcare plan learned that she wanted to receive her GED.

The Community Plan of Pennsylvania was beginning a pilot program with GEDWorks, an organization that helps individuals receive their GED through online instruction.

“I was actually really excited, because it was a way that I could graduate, and make my family proud without having to go through lots more years of frustration,” Victoria said.

Within the next few weeks, Victoria passed all sections of her official GED test. Victoria did an interview with an advisor about her journey to get her GED and explained that even though she had many challenges and difficult moments, her determination to complete her high school education before having her baby kept her on track.

Victoria is not alone. Nearly 1 in 5 working adults do not have a high school diploma. Education is a key social determinant of health as it is strongly tied to another social determinant of health — employment. Better education has been shown to lead to more stable employment which, in turn, may mean access to quality health care, a living wage and housing in a safe, non-polluted environment.

With this in mind, the collaboration with GEDWorks is expanding to community health plans in both North Carolina and Tennessee, providing more opportunities for people to access the education they need — and greater health.

As for Victoria, after the birth of her child, she has set her sights on continuing her education by going to college.

“I feel accomplished and ready to move on with the next chapters of my life,” Victoria said.

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