Address social determinants of health to improve health outcomes


Public and private insurers should adopt policies that mitigate barriers to treatment. Addressing social determinants has the potential to improve patient health outcomes and reduce avoidable healthcare spending. 

Why we must address social determinants of health

Socioeconomic factors like economic stability, education, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and environment, and social and community context drive more than 80 percent of health outcomes.  

Leaving social factors unaddressed leads to preventable disparities in health status, medication adherence, and disease outcomes. For example, lack of affordability is one of the primary reasons patients do not adhere to therapeutic recommendations.  

I’m on a fixed income and can’t afford all of my bills. If it weren’t for PAN’s help, I don’t know what I would have done.

Rudy de Leon, Texas, living with inherited retinal disease

Research finds the annual cost of medication non-adherence is $100 to $289 billion. This problem is especially concerning for people with lower incomes who manage a chronic condition. Potential policies could include payment models that incentivize screening patients for social needs and connecting them with needed services and education.