What’s Driving Our Health
Improving the health of our nation starts with broadening our view of what health means.
That’s why we’re starting a national conversation around whole health and the factors that drive it.
Most of us know how important health is, but we might not recognize all the factors that shape it. In reality, your health is determined more by the zip code you live in than the doctor you see, meaning where you live, your economic stability, education, ethnic background, access to nutritious food, and more. Called social drivers of health (SDoH), they influence us every day, everywhere.
Here are three of many examples.*
Edie suffers from congestive heart failure (CHF) and isn’t improving despite repeated ER visits and having the right medications.
So, why can’t she get her CHF under control?
Doctors realized she doesn’t have air conditioning, even in the sweltering heat of summer.
This makes it hard for Edie to breathe and even harder to go about the basics of everyday living.
For Edie, not having AC isn’t simply an inconvenience. It’s a hazard to her health.
James has asthma and recently had a flare-up.
The good news: He lives within short driving distance of several medical facilities.
The bad news: His car battery died, and he can’t afford to replace it just yet.
What’s more, the closest bus doesn’t stop near the urgent care center, meaning he would have to take even more time off his hourly job to get care.
He ultimately had a severe asthma attack and landed in the ER.
It’s not the first time and probably not the last.
Cheri is a full-time worker and single mom of two. She is determined to feed her family healthy foods.
But her paycheck only stretches so far, and with the closest grocery store 10 miles from where she lives, she runs out of fresh produce mid-week.
That leaves fast-food meals in between, which she knows aren’t healthy for her family but it’s the best she can do. As a result, all family members are either overweight or obese.
There are many other factors that also affect health, some that people may find surprising.
A lack of internet service affects access to telemedicine, online homework for kids, and much more, which in turn affects long-term health and access to opportunities.
Living in neighborhoods where green spaces are nonexistent—or even walking outside at night feels unsafe—has lasting consequences for mental and physical health.
A lack of educational opportunities, combined with the factors above and many others, affect lifelong health and economic stability.
Among people of color, 67% say their communities are affected by SDH compared to 58% of White people
Americans surveyed believe that SDH should be addressed now.
So, who should take action?
More than 80% surveyed say that healthcare entities, local government, private citizens, and employers share responsibility.
Individuals are only as healthy as the communities around them.
Learn more about whole health and its drivers, starting with reading the Driving Our Health study and visiting
Spread the word about the social drivers of health using the hashtagand by visiting on Instagram.
Learn more and join Anthem in the important conversation around these issues.
1 State of Healthy Housing. National Center for Healthy Housing. Accessed 9/30/2021.
* These scenarios are representative examples.