The Fund supports networks of state health policy decision makers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund supports two state leadership programs for legislative and executive branch state government officials committed to improving population health.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis to advance state health leadership, strong primary care, healthy aging, and sustainable health care costs.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is is a nonpartisan foundation focused on improving the health of communities and entire populations.
September 22, 2022
Early View Original Scholarship Social determinants of health
Melissa L. McCarthy
Marcee E. Wilder
Scott L. Zeger
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: Social determinants of health are an important predictor of future health care costs but little is known about their impact on Medicaid spending. This study analyzes the role of social determinants of health (SDH) in predicting future health care costs for adult Medicaid beneficiaries with similar past morbidity burdens and past costs.
Methods: We enrolled into a prospective cohort study 8,892 adult Medicaid beneficiaries who presented for treatment at an emergency department or clinic affiliated with two hospitals inWashington, DC, between September 2017 and December 31, 2018.We used SDH information measured at enrollment to categorize our participants into four social risk classes of increasing severity. We used Medicaid claims for a 2-year period; 12 months pre- and post-study enrollment to measure past and future morbidity burden according to the Adjusted Clinical Groups system. We also used the Medicaid claims data to characterize total annual Medicaid costs one year prior and one year post study enrollment.
Results: The 8,892 participants were primarily female (66%) and Black (91%). For persons with similar past morbidity burdens and past costs (p < 0.01), the future morbidity burden was significantly higher in the upper two social risk classes (1.15 and 2.04, respectively) compared with the lowest one. Mean future health care spending was significantly higher in the upper social risk classes compared with the lowest one ($2,713, $11,010, and $17,710, respectively) and remained significantly higher for the two highest social risk classes i.e.,($1,426 and $3,581, respectively), given past morbidity burden and past costs (p < 0.01). When we controlled for future morbidity burden (measured concurrently with future costs), social risk class was no longer a significant predictor of future health care costs.
Conclusions: SDH are statistically significant predictors of future morbidity burden and future costs controlling for past morbidity burden and past costs. Further research is needed to determine whether current payment systems adequately account for differences in the care needs of highly medically and socially complex patients.
Keywords: social determinants of health, health care costs, Medicaid, disease severity.
READ ON WILEY ONLINE LIBRARY
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.