Having an understanding of health equity can help you to identify policies that could improve the health of all individuals. It can also help you to develop a plan of action to improve your health.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has increased the need for addressing health equity, and some policy changes can be made to achieve this goal. As the population becomes more diverse, this is especially important.
People of color and other underserved groups have faced longstanding health inequities. This includes geographic location, socioeconomic status, access to care, and health outcomes. These inequities are expensive to fix and can affect a nation’s health.
One of the most significant challenges to achieving health equity is the lack of social support for vulnerable individuals. For example, many people do not receive paid sick leave, which increases their risk of contracting a disease.
Another major problem is the need for more resources for health care providers. There are several reasons for this. A backlog of untreated non-COVID-19 diseases is also present, and healthcare providers are overstretched.
Several innovative ideas have been implemented to increase the availability of hospital beds and home-based care. These approaches have reduced inequity in initial care, COVID detection, and follow-up of positive COVID patients.
Another way to address health equity is to focus on prevention. Many studies have shown that people of lower income face more significant health risks due to chronic illnesses. Additionally, they often receive insufficient quality care. In some cases, this can lead to premature deaths.
Social Determinants of Health
Social determinants of health are factors that shape a person’s health. They include socioeconomic conditions, social and political conditions, and environmental factors.
Healthcare providers can use a variety of policies to address health inequities. These include lowering costs, expanding coverage, improving access to care, and improving the quality of care.
Policies to improve health can be developed at the local, state, and federal levels. There are also a variety of community initiatives. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working to reduce health inequities.
One type of initiative, behavioral risk factor surveillance, helps monitor health-related behavior. Another example is the National Health Interview Survey.
Looking beyond the healthcare system and examining upstream policies is essential to achieve health equity. Policies affecting the environment, such as air quality, may positively affect health. Policies supporting improved housing, transportation, and education can also be beneficial.
In the short term, it is also essential to focus on the health of the most vulnerable populations. This will boost overall health outcomes and social well-being. Achieving this goal will also strengthen the economy.
Community partnerships are also an excellent way to address social determinants of health. Ideally, partnerships include people from the community and diverse sectors. It is essential to involve the community from the start.
The housing crisis is an economic challenge and a public health emergency. Housing is a crucial contributor to good health. It is one of the most well-documented social determinants of health. A lack of affordable housing affects families’ ability to make essential expenses. It also increases stress and leads to substance abuse.
Healthcare leaders understand the importance of affordable housing. Many healthcare providers work to increase access to housing for vulnerable patient populations. However, many healthcare organizations will need more resources to provide housing. As a result, policymakers need to take action.
One of the most effective approaches involves empowering community members to advocate for themselves and influence public systems. To do this, they need support and tools. These include narrative change training and media research.
Researchers should use natural experiment studies to isolate the effects of an intervention more effectively than a randomized control trial. Rather than focusing solely on housing, researchers should measure the impact of housing on other indicators of health. For example, the number of people who spend less than 30 percent of their income on housing is a relevant metric.
In addition, a housing-focused health equity initiative should include an analysis of return on investment. This is an important question, as some interventions may need to produce a positive return on investment for the healthcare sector.
Coordinated Care Organizations
Coordinated care organizations are healthcare providers working together to deliver high-quality, coordinated care for patients. These organizations can play a vital role in reducing healthcare costs and improving the population’s health.
ACOs can help improve the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. They promote prevention, chronic disease management, and coordination of services across clinicians. They focus on reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and helping people manage chronic conditions.
CMS recently integrated health equity into its Value-Based Payment (VBP) programs. This change represents an effort to increase access to health care, reduce health disparities, and improve the overall health of the U.S. As a result of this shift, many healthcare initiatives have been launched to address these issues.
As a result of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans gained coverage. To address health disparities, however, more needs to be done. In particular, policymakers must address social factors that affect health.
The Affordable Care Act created the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) to offer traditional Medicare beneficiaries access to more affordable care. It also established the Accountable Care Organization REACH model to promote the use of accountable care. Both of these initiatives are designed to help improve the availability of high-quality, coordinated care for underserved populations.
Many healthcare initiatives reflect a broader system movement toward care integration and “whole person” delivery models. By focusing on social factors, states and organizations can improve health outcomes and lower healthcare costs.