Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health (SDoH)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health equity means that every person can attain their full health potential without being disadvantaged due to social determinants of health (SDoH) – social, economic, discrimination or physical conditions they experience at home, school, work and elsewhere in their neighborhoods and communities. SDoH can lead to variances in health status/distribution of health resources, tipping the scale towards health inequity. 

What does this mean for you and your staff? Each patient brings more to your office than the symptoms they present on the surface. SDoH may affect a patient’s ability to follow their physician’s recommended treatment plans, so it’s important to adopt a “whole-person” approach. Here are just a few examples:

  • Access to healthy food – Proper nutrition is fundamental to health and wellness. Does your patient have nearby options to shop for affordable, fresh, healthy food?
  • Transportation options – Do they have access to safe, convenient, affordable transportation so they can make and keep health care appointments?
  • Culture, race/ethnicity – What cultural traditions influence their lifestyle or diet? Are there potential communication barriers?
  • Income/financial stability – Are there financial concerns that may prevent your patient from keeping appointments? (Can they take time off from work? Do they have childcare?)
  • Support/advocacy – Is the individual connected with family, friends or community groups if they need help? Are there resources available to provide information/education?
  • Housing/Built environment – Does your patient have safe and stable housing with functioning utilities? Do they have access to safe outdoor spaces for physical activity?
  • Health coverage – Does your patient have insurance? Do they understand their benefits? Are they aware of the importance of preventive care and do they know where to find it?

We encourage you to learn more, as strategies for achieving health equity continue to gain momentum. This section of our website offers resources to help you and your staff stay informed and engaged.

What You Can Do Now 

There are many resources on various websites to help you learn more about health equity and social determinants of health and form a plan to work with your patients. Learn more.

What BCBSOK is Doing to Address Health Equity and SDoH

BCBSOK knows that community alliances play a critical role in filling the gap to a brighter, stronger and healthier future for all Oklahomans. Because of this, BCBSOK invests in community organizations that directly address health equity and the social determinants of health in our communities. Working together is vital to create access to care and resources for urban, rural and under-resourced communities. Read more about BCBSOK’s impact on community health.

Reference Library

Our shared customers – our members, your patients – are our neighbors, relatives and classmates of our children. It is imperative that we work together as a team, with the common goal of supporting the best possible outcomes. Access resources to help.

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. References to third party sources or organizations are not a representation, warranty or endorsement of such organizations. Any questions regarding those organizations should be addressed to them directly. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.