New Study Finds More Than Half of Georgians Believe Their Community Is Facing Health Issues Due to External Factors, Social Drivers

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Nearly 60 percent of Georgians believe their community is facing health issues due to external factors – including financial stability, mental health, and living in a safe community – according to Driving Our Health: A study exploring health perceptions in America conducted by Anthem, Inc., parent company to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliated health plans.

Nationally, these findings suggest that many aren’t fully connecting all the dots on what makes us healthy. In fact, nearly half of Americans (46%) are unaware of the concept of social drivers of health (SDoH) – external factors like nutritious food, safe housing, and reliable transportation – that play a key role in determining health outcomes. But the current attention on health provides an opportunity to expand our understanding of whole health, and ultimately improve the health and vitality of people across the nation.

In Georgia, 85 percent of those surveyed believe that insurance companies are responsible for addressing SDoH and health inequities, namely helping Americans access behavioral health services (62%), and connecting patients with healthcare they can easily afford (54%) and access (51%). Health services (36%) and healthcare (35%) were also cited as not always easily accessible for Georgia residents.

“This study validates our mission to measurably improve the health of all Georgians,” said Pam Stahl, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Georgia. “While many Georgians are aware that drivers like financial stability, mental health, and access to healthy food can significantly impact our health, we need to expand our understanding of all the drivers that shape whole health to make real progress.”

Anthem is calling on individuals to learn more about whole health and its drivers – starting with exploring the Driving Our Health study and sharing what they learn with others. Anthem has been focused on the social drivers of health for over 75 years in an effort to improve the lives and communities we serve and be a trusted partner. Along with the Anthem Foundation and through other enterprise initiatives, Anthem has and continues to create and support programs that focus on health equity, creating connections, improving outcomes, and removing barriers to care.

In the past year, the Anthem Foundation has given over $1 million to strategic partnerships and programs in Georgia that target economic security ($330K), food security ($200K), mental health ($385K) and other human services ($240K).

Other highlights from the study include:

  • The pandemic increased consumers’ consciousness of physical and mental health. Eight in 10 Gen Z’ers agree the pandemic has made them more conscious of their whole health, with about half reporting strong agreement (49% vs. 41% Baby Boomers).

  • SDoH consequences are prevalent and disproportionately affect certain groups, including people of color. Among people of color, two-thirds believe their local community is facing health issues related to social drivers. This is significantly higher than the percentage of White Americans who report these issues in their local community.

  • Respondents believe that action is needed to address these disparities, but no one entity is responsible for solving these issues alone. Americans believe healthcare, government, community, non-profit, and other entities have a responsibility to address SDoH and health disparities collectively.

“We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be and stay healthy. This starts by taking a broader view of health. At Anthem, we are committed to looking at the many factors that contribute to individual health and partnering in the smartest ways to improve it,” said Anthem Chief Health Officer, Shantanu Agrawal, M.D. “We're proud to partner with our Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliated health plans to deepen Americans’ understanding of whole health and what drives it.”

That’s why Anthem is utilizing these findings to elevate the national conversation around whole health and its drivers with the ultimate goal of improving health in communities across the country. Making a difference at the community level is critical, because health is increasingly determined by the zip code we live in, rather than the doctors we see. That means communities play a vital role in sustaining health.

“This work builds on promising opportunities to improve consumers’ health more holistically, looking at social, behavioral, and physical drivers of health, and providing awareness to better understand what consumers need most to support their health,” said Agrawal.

More information about the study findings and what shapes whole health is available on the What’s Driving Our Health microsite and Driving Our Health Instagram.