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

By Karen DeSalvo Michael O. Leavitt: For More Info, Go Here…

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.

Medicaid Programs Provide Key Opportunities To Address Social Needs

Medicaid programs serve low-income, vulnerable populations whose health is often most negatively impacted by social determinants, such as lack of quality, affordable housing; food; and transportation. These and other social determinants are associated with negative outcomes and higher cost of medical care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Increasingly, many state Medicaid programs are using their levers to address non-medical drivers of health. The Medicaid program provides an opportunity to leverage state innovations and experimentations with different approaches that can help provide some of the answers we need regarding the most successful strategies to reduce health costs and improve the health of the population. Some research shows that the Medicaid program writ large is poised to improve the lives of up to 75 million people who are likely to be disproportionately negatively impacted by SDOH.

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