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Health insurance companies have long recognized the value of partnering with non-profit organizations to address health outcomes for their clients. If payers can support programs that keep their clients from acquiring chronic diseases, which are very expensive to manage, the company can save money in the long run. The philanthropic arms of such companies as Humana, Aetna, and Cigna support initiatives like diabetes education and prevention, leading active lifestyles, and heart health through their grantmaking. While these are critical, an individual’s health status also be influenced by non-medical factors, together known as the social determinants of health.
The Kaiser Family Foundation defines social determinants as “the structural determinants and conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.” This includes factors like housing, poverty, employment status, race, and gender, which have an impact on health that the healthcare delivery system isn’t designed to address.
Now that payers have acknowledged the very real impact of social determinants of health, it would seem difficult for health insurance foundations to drastically change their philanthropic focus without a compelling reason.