The United States spends 250 percent more than any other developed country on health care services, yet we are ranked below 16 other countries in overall life expectancy. A less frequently discussed statistic, however, is the degree to which the U.S. under-invests in social services: for every dollar spent on health care, only 50 cents is invested in social services. In comparison, other developed countries spend roughly $2 on social services for every dollar spent on health care.
This Health Affairs blog post, authored by participants in the Center for Health Care Strategies’ Complex Care Innovation Lab, focuses on the need to marry the nation’s health and social safety nets to truly address social determinants of health issues at the ground level. Jennifer DeCubellis of Minnesota’s Hennepin Health and Leon Evans from the Center for Health Care Services in Texas draw from their own experiences to suggest new opportunities for integrating health and social services for vulnerable populations.