Blocks with health care symbols The known social determinants all flow into each other: poor education, lower wages, manual labor, low or no access to quality health care, little to no knowledge and time available for preventative care measures. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The COVID-19 outbreak has not affected all Americans equally. A person’s risk of contracting the virus, as well as the severity and likelihood of recovering, are a matter of geographic location, age, ethnicity and underlying health conditions, among other factors. “Essential workers,” for example, often correlates to low-wage workers who can’t afford to take time off of work to reduce the risk of exposure.

These factors are examples of social determinants of health. In recent years, health care providers and industry experts have been pushing to include these lifestyle factors into health care planning. Employers, as well, have been urged to incorporate such considerations into their health and wellness programs.

Emily Payne

Emily Payne is the current deputy editor for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.

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