How does COVID-19 exacerbate the social determinants of health?

The coronavirus pandemic has intensified the social barriers faced by vulnerable populations, who are already more likely to contract the virus. Here are the key factors affecting your member populations that could be impacting their health during this extraordinarily challenging time.  

Virus
Man with mask Covid-19

Members face unprecedented financial instability.

1 in 6 Americans have lost their jobs during the pandemic1

1 in 4 working Americans believe they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months2

2.9 million households don’t have adequate access to food.

Vulnerable populations like seniors may be apprehensive to go to the grocery store, while others cannot afford to stockpile extra food in order to reduce their exposure3

Old man with mask Covid-19

Geography is a major barrier to health support.

1 in 4 of rural residents said access to good doctors and hospitals is a major problem in their community, which could limit their access to providers to assess health status during the pandemic.4

Social distancing may threaten members’ health in other ways.

Loneliness is tied to increased risk factors like these5

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Heart disease and stroke

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High cholesterol

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Greater likelihood of alcohol & tobacco use

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Reduced exercise

Health plan members need support to help them navigate these barriers.

We’ve observed significant demand based on AI-generated insights on the Wellframe platform

10x increase in member questions about telehealth services

10x increase in member messages about coronavirus-related SDoH barriers like these

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Childcare

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Unemployment

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The stimulus package

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Food stamps

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Loneliness

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Social isolation

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated critical social barriers facing vulnerable populations, who are already more likely to contract the virus. For health plans to mitigate the epidemic's impact, and better support the whole health of their members, they must also find ways to proactively reach out to high-risk members to address pressing factors like these. Make sure your organization can uncover critical social barriers, surface them to the right member of your care team, and triage them to the right resource or benefit.

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More from this series

covid-19-behavioral-health-infographic

[Infographic] What are the mental health consequences of COVID-19?

People with masks Covid-19

[Infographic] How are high-risk populations managing their health during the coronavirus pandemic?