America’s racial and ethnic minorities have worse health than whites do, and they often receive a lesser standard of health care. People who have limited education or income, or who live in poor neighborhoods, have worse health and health care compared to those who are better educated or financially better off. People with disabilities are also in worse health, and receive worse health care, compared to people without disabilities.
Narrowing these disparities in health and health care has been the goal of many public and private efforts since the early 1990s. Although some progress has been made—particularly in closing the quality gap in the care that minorities and whites receive—much more remains to be done.
The multiple causes of health and health care disparities are complex, and some are only beginning to be explored deeply. Among the policy recommendations for making further progress are the following:
- Improving the quality of care across the health care system;
- focusing more attention to lessening or eliminating the drivers of poor health–including poverty, low levels of education, and the health and safety of neighborhoods;
- increasing efforts to keep health care safety-net facilities viable; and
- devoting more research to further understanding health disparities.
This Health Policy Brief summarizes what is known about health and health care disparities, discusses recent efforts to close the gaps, and was published online on October 6, 2011 in Health Affairs.
Health Affairs/RWJF Health Policy Briefs
Series provides clear, accessible overviews of timely and important health policy topics. The briefs are geared to policy-makers, congressional staffers, and others who need short, jargon-free explanations of health policy basics.About the series
- About this grant
The What's Next Health series features leading thinkers and visionaries. Stanford social scientist & innovator BJ Fogg discusses his model f...
Executive Nurse Fellow Jerry Mansfield explains why the University Hospital and the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital do not have a BSN-only hi...
RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Jennifer Bellot writes about losing her grandmother to complications from a medical error.
We create new opportunities for better health by investing in health where it starts—in our homes, schools, and jobs.
When companies invest in employee wellness, it’s good for health, productivity ... and the bottom line.
Read highlights from college students’ recent trip to the front lines of health care in urban New Jersey.
NewPublicHealth spoke with the Julio Frenk, MD, MPH, PHD, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, about how public health has changed o...
Improved Prevention and Treatment Decrease U.S. Stroke Deaths - NHTSA Announces New Safety Efforts for Older Drivers - Poll: Parents Concern...
Developing small community homes as alternatives to nursing homes, this radical, new national model for skilled nursing care returns control...
NewPublicHealth spoke with John Auerbach, professor at Northeastern University and the primary author of a report on the Trust, and Cheryl B...
Patrick M. Krueger recently co-authored a study that examines the characteristics and mortality risks of nondrinker subgroups to explain why...
The RWJF DataHub tracks state-level data, and allows visitors to customize and visualize facts and figures.