Advancing Whole Health Through The Lens Of Health Equity
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Keeping a doctor’s appointment is easier if you have transportation. Healthy eating is less of a challenge if you have the access and means to buy healthy food. Following a doctor’s treatment plan doesn’t have to be complicated if you have access to a doctor that you understand and trust, plus have a way to pay for treatment. Health isn’t just doctors and medicine — it’s in all aspects of our lives.
Key Social Drivers Of Health
Looking at the social drivers of health (SDOH), the places and environment in which we live, learn, work, and play can help us address disparities among different populations and close those gaps. For example, access to healthy food through the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program increased for about 242,000 Black residents from 2014 to 2018 in DeKalb County, Georgia. As a result, county officials reported a 34% increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables among program participants.
Reducing Health Disparities
Health disparities, which so often negatively impact marginalized populations, are deeply rooted in long-standing inequities in both the opportunities and resources needed to be healthy. Lack of access to nutritious food, safe housing, and reliable transportation have created gaps in health outcomes. Understanding how SDOH impacts employee health is beginning to influence employers’ health plan decisions. Many are working to recognize and address inequities in care, experience, and outcomes.
What Is Health Equity?
So, what is health equity? Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Achieving this requires focused and ongoing societal efforts to address historical and contemporary injustices; overcome economic, social, and other obstacles to health and healthcare; and eliminate preventable health disparities.
Health equity can be defined as a process of reducing health disparities, those differences in health outcomes between groups, but it’s also an outcome where such disparities are eliminated.
Employers need to consider how a health equity lens can enable optimal performance across their organization. Health disparities alone cost the U.S. around $135B in excess medical costs and economic losses each year that are avoidable. As a forward-thinking health company, we’ve started a national conversation around whole health and the factors that drive it, implementing programs to help address health inequities and understand health discrimination.
Supporting Health Equity
Addressing Care Gaps Through The Community Connected Care Solution
Our Community Connected Care Solution integrates data with deep community connections to offer social support in direct response to the most-impactful social needs with measurable results.
- We use our deep knowledge of our members and communities to guide members to social benefits, point solutions, and community support.
- We ensure the quality and availability of social support that respond directly to the social needs of our members.
- Employers can leverage our community health expertise to provide an innovative, cost-effective, measurable, and data-driven solution customized to employees’ social needs.
Confronting SDOH With Life Essentials
Truly improving health will require more than expanding its definition to include social drivers like access to nutritious food, dependent care, and reliable transportation. Our Life Essentials provides directed support in critical areas to help improve an employee’s well-being and quality of life, such as:
- A grocery allowance to purchase items from an established list of healthy foods to help address nutrition.
- An employer-funded dependent care account (DCA) to help employees meet dependent care needs.
- A transportation assistance program that can be used for public transit or ride share.
Health equity means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Raising awareness about how equity impacts all areas of our well-being is an essential step to improving the health of our nation.
Learn more about addressing care gaps and improving the overall health of families by viewing our on-demand Advancing Whole Health webinar, featuring Chief Health Equity Officer Darrell Gray, II, MD, MPH, and Chief Community Health Officer Pamme Lyons-Taylor, PhD.