Northeast Business Group on Health Releases an Employer Guide to Social Determinants of Health
NEW YORK, February 15, 2022 — Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH), today released “Social Determinants of Health: A Guide for Employers,” to help HR and benefit leaders identify and address the health-related social needs of their employees and families.
Until recently, social determinants of health (SDOH) have been primarily linked with participants in public health insurance programs as well as those without health insurance. Now, more employers are focusing on healthcare disparities and their causes, both of which were brought into sharper focus as a result of the pandemic and movement for social justice. Additionally, employers are becoming increasingly aware that social factors such as where employees live, what food they have access to and how much money they make, are having a significant impact on their health.
“Employers can play an important role in supporting employees who are negatively affected by social determinants of health,” said Candice Sherman, CEO, NEBGH. “Employers have routine, frequent contact with their employees, determine what benefits employees can receive, and can access information that may point to social needs affecting employee health, wellbeing and productivity at work. We developed this to guide give employers the tools and resources they need to begin addressing these issues.”
The 48-page guide begins with an overview of the five main SDOH – economic stability, education access and quality, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context. It also includes an in-depth discussion on the importance of collaboration among various entities such as health plans, hospital systems, community groups, government agencies and technology companies. Included are examples of several innovative SDOH initiatives many of these organizations have launched.
The guide lays out a step-by-step process to help employers that are serious about addressing the social needs of their employees. Those steps include collecting data using a health risk assessment tool or an employee survey, assessing their benefits design with equity in mind, providing health benefits education and financial counseling, and reviewing what benefits might not be offered (e.g., caregiving, tuition reimbursement). Also included is a list of critical questions employers should ask themselves when developing a successful SDOH program.
“Employers have too much at stake not to pay more attention to social determinants of health. As the second largest payer of healthcare services in the U.S., and as stewards of the communities in which they operate and their employees live and work, employers need to focus on health-related social needs as an important component of their health and well-being strategy and one that is strongly connected to the principles of social responsibility, equity and fairness,” said Sherman.
“After nearly two years of recovery from a pandemic that has hit vulnerable populations the hardest, we must continue to address the challenges communities are facing: food and housing insecurity, lack of access to basic healthcare including vaccines, lack of equity within the healthcare professions, and racial and economic healthcare disparities made worse during COVID-19. We must continue to support the full range of services that make for healthy people and communities,” said Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which provided funding for NEBGH’s guide.
The guide is available free for employers and the public, and can be accessed here.
About Northeast Business Group on Health
NEBGH is an employer-led, multi-stakeholder coalition that empowers members to drive excellence in health and achieve the highest value in healthcare delivery and the consumer experience. NEBGH employer/purchaser members cover 6 million lives in the U.S. and 10 million globally.
About the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation
The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of vulnerable communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. Named after a tireless advocate for immigrants, children, and the poor, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation funds programs and initiatives across New York State that either provide direct healthcare services or address the social determinants of health. For more information, visit https://www.cabrinihealth.org/