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New White Paper Marks a Turning Point in Employee Health

Extensive analysis of community health and social influences reveals a significant impact on workforce health, productivity, and cost efficiency

By Patty Starr, President and CEO, Health Action Council, and Craig Kurtzweil, Chief Data & Analytics Officer
UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual

A first-of-its-kind study reveals that community health and non-clinical social barriers have a much more profound impact on workforce health than previously recognized.

The report, which focused on Health Action Council members’ claims across more than 217,000 covered lives, marks the first study to examine social factors within any claims data. It unveils some of the most comprehensive findings on social determinants of health (SDoH) – the conditions in which people live, learn, work, play, and worship – ever released at the member level.

Titled Community insights: Key factors that influence employee health,” the seventh annual white paper by Health Action Council and UnitedHealth Group highlights crucial insights for HR and benefits managers to utilize when customizing their plans, ultimately helping to improve the health and productivity of their workforce.

Unveiling Community Divides

One of the white paper’s most striking takeaways is the connection between where employees live, its effect on their life expectancy, and costs for both employers and their employees.

  • There is an extreme disparity in mortality rates among employees who work for the same company, across various states.
    • When analyzing claims data across the 10 states with the most HAC members, South Carolinian employees are 55% more likely to die before age 75 than their Californian coworkers.
  • Employees who live in less healthy states cost employers more.
    • Approximately 66% of HAC members live within the 20 least healthy states, according to America’s Health Rankings data. If those members lived in the 20 healthiest states, the total covered per member per month (PMPM) amount would be reduced by $61 million — 7% of spend.
  • Four in ten (41%) children have a parent battling at least one high-risk SDoH hardship, such as social isolation or financial, food or housing insecurities.
    • Those children faced higher rates of suicidal ideation, depression, and ER visits.
  • Thirty percent of adults are at risk for social isolation, which increases the risk of dementia by 50%, stroke by 32%, and heart disease by 29%.
    • Adults diagnosed with a condition such as diabetes or depression face even higher rates of food insecurity and social isolation, respectively.
  • Millennials have the highest rates of SDoH risk across generations, as 13% of them are facing three or more SDoH risks.


To learn more, read the full white paper!

About Health Action Council
Health Action Council is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization representing mid and large-size employers that enhances human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. It provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve the quality and moderate the cost of healthcare purchased by its members for their employees, dependents, and retirees. Health Action Council also collaborates with key stakeholders - health plans, physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry - to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the community.

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