Philadelphia-based insurer AmeriHealth Caritas is launching a subsidiary aimed at addressing the social determinants of health.
Social Determinants of Life Inc. aims to invest in, deploy and support solutions to help people build resilience and improve their life outcomes, according to an announcement. Alongside the launch, the company unveiled its first investment—a $29 million series B in Wider Circle, a California-based startup that designs tech-enabled health programs and peer-to-peer social networks.
Through the Social Determinants of Life investment, AmeriHealth Caritas becomes Wider Circle's biggest shareholder and will take a seat on its board of directors.
“We know today that up to 80% of our health is tied to social determinants: things like housing, education, job training, transportation and access to healthy foods. Your ZIP Code can have a much greater impact on how long you live, and on your quality of life, than your genetic code,” said Paul Tufano, chairman and CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas, in a statement.
“That’s why we refer to the Social Determinants of Life. We are looking beyond health outcomes and leveraging our unique expertise and grassroots approach to improve life outcomes. We need to help people overcome poverty and achieve their American Dream," Tufano said.
The investment in Wider Circle will allow the company to harness social networks, which research has found can contribute to better health by boosting resilience and leading to improved life trajectories. These networks can also underpin social needs, AmeriHealth Caritas said.
The new company, which will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurer, is beginning a hiring search for key leadership positions.
“AmeriHealth Caritas is remaking the clinical-first architecture of our current health care system, building a new model that places social and environmental factors at the foundation—where they belong. The creation of Social Determinants of Life, Inc. is a turning point as we partner with millions of Americans on their journey from wellness to resilience,” said Tufano.