California is a bellwether for the healthcare system of the United States, providing lessons and examples of the successes and major challenges faced by health systems that aim to achieve health equity for a diverse population.
Healthcare researchers, policymakers, and practitioners now understand that the social and structural determinants of health—or the external realities of an individual’s or a community’s socioeconomic and political position in society—are critical to health and wellness. These determinants include the factors or conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play. A focus on the social and structural determinants of health requires a focus on improving the systems and deeply embedded structures that marginalize whole communities and regions, making it difficult to achieve good health for all.
California’s health care delivery system has largely been successful in providing coverage and access to care compared to other states in the U.S. However, important challenges remain for California to achieve health equity, given that nearly 8 percent of Californians remain uninsured, and wide disparities persist in health outcomes across socioeconomic groups, racial and ethnic populations, and regions of California. These disparities suggest that a healthcare system can only do so much to achieve wellness in society. Creating an environment in which all Californians can thrive requires moving beyond simply treating sickness and actively moving towards an integrated health system that also tackles social and structural barriers and needs for all.
We are passionate about making strategic foresight more accessible and useful for a variety of organizations, and everyday people. To accomplish these goals, we are building toolkits to help decision makers, public policy programs, and K-12 educators.