For An Option To Address Social Determinants Of Health, Look To Medicaid

Research affirms what we intuitively know: The ability of individuals and families to lead healthy and productive lives is influenced by a multitude of factors. Beyond the more commonly recognized factors such as insurance coverage and access to medical care are the non-medical social determinants of health (SDOH). These non-medical drivers include access to healthier foods, safer neighborhoods, reliable transportation, and educational attainment. They also include how we behave in our environment such as exercise, eating habits, and tobacco use. SDOH account for more health outcomes, including cost, than medical care alone. Importantly, emerging evidence suggests that addressing negative SDOH can lead to improvements in health outcomes. 

Efforts to address SDOH include ample examples of promising cross-sector collaboration—collaboration that has the potential to improve the health outcomes of millions of individuals in communities across the nation. For these efforts to ultimately succeed, leaders will need to clearly define for many stakeholders the value proposition for why they should engage to help address SDOH, including the value of this effort as part of advancing value-based care and building healthy communities. 

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