Home Health Care How do social determinants of health impact healthcare utilization rates?

How do social determinants of health impact healthcare utilization rates?

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A recent survey from McKinsey took a closer look at how social determinants of health affect inpatient and emergency room utilization rates.

The 2,010 survey respondents were U.S. residents who had health insurance coverage (through Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare and Medicaid or an individual market plan) or who were uninsured. Those with individual market plans or who were uninsured had incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. People with employer-sponsored insurance were excluded.

Fifty-three percent of respondents indicated they are adversely impacted by at least one of the following social determinants: food environment, transportation, community safety, housing and social support.

What the survey also found was that individuals reporting higher inpatient or ER utilization rates were more likely to report unmet social needs such as the ones listed above.

For instance, respondents who reported food insecurity are 2.4 times as likely to report multiple ER visits and 2 times as likely to report an inpatient visit over a 12-month period. Those who reported unmet transportation needs are 2.6 times as likely to report multiple ER visits and 2.2 times as likely to report an inpatient visit during a 12-month period. And those reporting unmet community safety needs are 3.2 times as likely to report multiple ER visits over a 12-month timeframe.


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Among respondents who cited multiple unmet social needs, 85 percent said they would use a social program offered by their health insurer.

On a larger scale, survey participants — regardless of social need — expressed that they would use these offerings from their insurer: discounts at grocery stores that specialize in healthy foods (50 percent of respondents); free memberships at local gyms (48 percent); and a drop-in care clinic at lower or no cost during evenings and weekends (40 percent).

Separate from the consumer survey, McKinsey has also released a report on how Medicaid programs can address SDOH.

The paper outlines various tactics, including aligning social determinants efforts with strategic objectives, establishing partnerships with other organizations and taking advantage of federal funds to support social service providers.

Photo: vaeenma, Getty Images

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