The COVID-19 pandemic has brought social and racial inequity to the forefront of public health. In the United States, the pandemic has affected many communities, including racial and ethnic minorities as well as low-income populations, more severely than other groups.
Negative health outcomes are more common among individuals within these groups, and social determinants of health (SDOH) play a significant role. SDOH are the conditions where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age; they are the wider set of forces and systems that affect a broad range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Their importance has become increasingly apparent as research on health outcomes and risks has shown that the care delivered within the walls of a hospital or medical practice impact as little as 10% of an individual’s long-term health with SDOH affecting the remaining 90%. Now Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and states across the country are playing a leading role in tackling health equity and SDOH.