Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health (SDoH)

Health equity presents the ideal that everyone deserves a fair shot at living their healthiest possible life. But some populations may be at a disadvantage due to social determinants of health (SDoH) – social, economic or physical conditions they experience at home, school, work and elsewhere in their neighborhoods and communities. SDoH can lead to variances in health status/distribution of health resources, tipping the scale towards health inequity. 

What does this mean for you and your staff? Each patient brings more to your office than the symptoms they present on the surface. SDoH may affect a patient’s ability or willingness to follow their physician’s recommended treatment plans, so it’s important to adopt a “whole-person” approach. Here are just a few examples:

  • Access to healthy food – Proper nutrition is fundamental to health and wellness. Does your patient have nearby options to shop for fresh, healthy food?
  • Transportation options – Do they have access to safe, convenient, affordable transportation so they can make and keep health care appointments?
  • Culture, race/ethnicity – What cultural preferences make your patient unique? Are there potential language barriers?
  • Income/financial stability – Are there financial concerns that may prevent your patient from keeping appointments? (Can they take time off from work? Do they have childcare?)
  • Support/advocacy – Is the individual connected with family, friends or community groups if they need help? Are there resources available to provide information/education?
  • Health coverage – Does your patient have insurance? Do they understand their benefits? Are they aware of the importance of preventive care and do they know where to find it?

We encourage you to learn more, as strategies for achieving health equity continue to gain momentum. This section of our website offers resources to help you and your staff stay informed and engaged.

What BCBSMT is Doing to Address Health Equity and SDoH

We encourage you to take time to view the Making an Impact portion of our website, along with our Newsroom, to learn more about some of the work we’re doing to address Health Equity and SDoH. Four key initiatives are highlighted below.

Care Van Program and Caring Foundation of MontanaSM (CFMT)

We work to ensure all Montanans have access to preventive health care services, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay. Through partnerships and sponsors across Montana, CFMT provides these services at low or no cost to individuals of all ages. Efforts focus primarily on rural and frontier communities that have little or no access to health care services. The Care Team, through the Care Van program, has traveled more than 105,000 miles to deliver 30,000-plus vaccines, health screenings, educational resources, and preventive services in 42-plus Montana counties since 2014.

Governor’s Cup and Kids Marathon

We present the annual event in Helena to provide people with a fun and festive opportunity to celebrate the benefits of exercise and healthy lifestyle choices with their friends and neighbors. The Governor’s Cup serves as the main fundraising event for CFMT, with race registration fees going to the foundation. For nearly 50 years, the Governor’s Cup has sparked fitness fires inside the bellies of numerous participants in the marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 10K, 5K and Kids Marathon and Fun Run. The Kids Marathon program is a partnership with elementary schools to provide a fun training program at no cost. Kids in grades K-5 at participating schools participate in running and/or walking activities during a six-week training period and then run and/or walk a 1-mile lap Friday evening at the Governor’s Cup to become a Kid’s Marathon finisher.

Mental Wellness Basics

Through a partnership with EVERFI, we provide Mental Wellness Basics training at no cost to school throughout Montana, providing youth an opportunity to bolster the ability to recognize warning signs, cope, assist others, and destigmatize the topic of mental wellness.

Major Grants

The Big Blue Sky Initiative major grants, funded through Healthy Kids, Healthy Families®, is a BCBSMT effort designed to build healthier communities as part of an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach Montanans in these areas:

  • Nutrition and Food Security
  • Physical Activity
  • Disease Prevention and Management
  • Substance Abuse Prevention
  • Mental Wellness and Suicide Prevention
  • Determinants of Health

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. References to third party sources or organizations are not a representation, warranty or endorsement of such organizations. Any questions regarding those organizations should be addressed to them directly. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.