Insurers spend less than 1% of net income on SDOH efforts, study finds

The top 20 private health insurers spent $1.87 billion on social determinants of health between 2017 and 2021, according to a Nov. 10 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

To determine social spending for the top largest private insurers by market share, the researchers searched news articles and news releases that included insurer name and the terms "social determinant of health" or "community health'' between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2021. Spending was categorized into housing, food security, employment, education, social and community context, and transportation. The researchers added a seventh category called "general SDOH" for spending that lacked a clear category due to reporting methods. 

Five things to know: 

1. The top six insurers by market share made up 72 percent of the total social spending over that five-year period. 

2. As a percent of their net income, these six insurers spent, on average, 0.11 percent on SDOH in 2017, 1.6 percent in 2020 and 0.67 percent in 2021.  

3. Most funds went to housing ($1.2 billion) and food security ($238 million). 

4. General SDOH accounted for $247 million in spending. 

5. The least amount of SDOH funding was allocated to transportation ($13.4 million). 

Read the full report here

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