Although the US spends more on health care than any other nation in the world, we rank poorly on nearly every measure of health status. Why is this? One of the most significant barriers between us and better health are social determinants of health (SDoH)—non-medical factors that influence health.

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Individual-level factors such as access to health care and genetics obviously have a large role to play in health; however, they do not fully explain patterns of health and illness within communities and across populations. Access to economic and social resources, the quality of our schooling, the safety of our workplaces, the cleanliness of our water and air, the nature of our social interactions and relationships—all of these factors, among others, influence health outcomes in concrete ways.

For example, there have been numerous studies that show a causal relationship between SDoH factors and health issues such as: hospital readmission rates in the Medicare Advantage population, childhood obesity rates, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders in children, depression rates, and prevalence of smoking.

As social determinants of health continue to make headlines in the healthcare world, there has arisen a growing movement to address SDoH in health care policy and develop programs that acknowledge its importance on delivering effective and efficient care.

That’s why NovuHealth has published this white paper, Social Determinants of Health: The barriers between us and better health. In it, plans will find scientific research on the social conditions in which we live and their influence on our health, implications of policies addressing SDoH as well as examples of how SDoH considerations are being incorporated into health care programs. Finally we share a framework for building a member engagement program that addresses SDoH factors, behavioral biases and member connection

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About NovuHealth
NovuHealth is the leading healthcare consumer engagement company, offering rewards and incentive programs that improve consumer health and plan performance. NovuHealth applies proven loyalty and data science strategies and leverages its deep industry and regulatory expertise to motivate high-value consumer activities. Headquartered in Minneapolis, NovuHealth has worked with nearly 40 health plans and served more than 15 million consumers across all 50 states. Learn more at