Health professionals, including social workers, community health workers, public health workers, and licensed health care providers, share common interests and responsibilities in promoting health equity and improving social determinants of health-the conditions in which people live, work, play, and learn. We summarize the underlying causes of health inequity and comparatively poor health outcomes in the United States. We describe barriers to realizing the hope embedded in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that moving away from fee-for-service payments will naturally drive care upstream as providers respond to greater financial risk by undertaking greater prevention efforts for the health of their patients.
We assert that health equity should serve as the guiding framework for achieving the Triple Aim of health care reform and outline practical opportunities for improving care and promoting stronger efforts to address social determinants of health.
These proposals include developing a dashboard of measures to assist providers committed to health equity and community-based prevention and to promote institutional accountability for addressing socioeconomic factors that influence health.