Healthcare Economics: Social Determinants of Health

Miatta Teasley

Capella University


Economics and Decision Making in Health Care

Professor Georgena Wiley

February 20,2023

Social Determinants of Health

The economic aspects predominantly affect individual and collective health. The health economic issue I will discuss in detail is social determinants of health. Many social determinants of health include education levels, income rates, race, housing, nutrition, environment, and sanitation (Artiga & Hinton, 2019). These factors can positively or negatively contribute to the health of individuals. The specific social determinant of health the report will focus on is poverty. In 2021, 698 million people, or 9% of the world's population, are expected to be living in extreme poverty, which is defined as earning less than $1.90 per day ( Development Initiatives, 2021). More than two-thirds of the world's population (3,293 million people) and more than one-fifth (1,803 million people), respectively, lives on less than $5.50 per day ( Development Initiatives, 2021). In the United States, a report from the US Census in 2021 shows that approximately 37.9 million Americans, which is approximately 9% of the total population live in poverty. Therefore, poverty is a significant local and global social determinant of health.

In the United States, poverty is mainly concentrated among minority groups. Data shows that the number of African Americans and Hispanics living in poverty is higher than whites, despite their population being small. Approximately 19.5% Africans Americans are poor while only 8.1% non-Hispanic Whites live in poverty ( Federal Safety Net, 2023). The ethnic and racial variation in poverty is best explained through the accumulated systemic disadvantages towards peripheral ethnic groups for decades. With high poverty rates, the ethnic minority groups are predisposed to poor health outcomes and most of them can hardly afford treatment or insurance coverage.

One reason I have selected to focus on social determinants of health is that solving these issues can address the social and economic gaps in different communities. For instance, poverty patterns are associated with social and economic gaps. People living in overcrowded and poor house structures are from lower economic classes, while those living in furnished houses are from upper economic classes. The second reason for focusing on poverty is that it is both a global and local issue. The impacts of poverty on healthcare system are felt across the globe. Therefore, mediating the impacts of poverty on health of population can improve healthcare outcomes globally health (Artiga & Hinton, 2019). Offering job opportunities can eradicate poverty, create an equal society and allow many people to afford health services. In other words, the disparities in healthcare are first manifested in social and economic settings.

The poverty impacts the population of every community in varying degrees. I come from a low-income community where utilization for health services is very low (Cui & Chang, 2021). Most people in this community are uninsured because they cannot pay monthly insurance premiums. Consequently, they rarely go to hospitals for treatment. In the workplace, some employees who earn low salaries also face the same nightmare, as they cannot comfortably access the services they need and have to settle for low-quality care. The gaps that contribute to these issues include academic levels, employment, income, and housing, to mention but a few. If these gaps are removed, every person will have the same opportunity to access health services. Children from poor families have low academic achievement. Low academic attainment in adulthood augments inaccessibility to healthcare. Therefore, addressing poverty can solve other issues like poor housing, sanitation and illiteracy.


Artiga, S., & Hinton, E. (2019, July 9).  Beyond health care: The role of social determinants in promoting health and health equity. KFF.,Social%20determinants%20of%20health%20are%20the%20conditions%20in%20which%20people,health%20care%20(Figure%201)

Cui, X., & Chang, C. (2021). How income influences health: Decomposition based on absolute income and relative income effects.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(20), 10738.

Poverty trends: Global, regional and national. Development Initiatives. (2021, November 10). Retrieved February 17, 2023, from,live%20below%20%245.50%20a%20day

U.S. Poverty Statistics. Federal Safety Net. (2023, January 23). Retrieved February 17, 2023, from