Public and private sectors have an obligation to address health inequities, making healthcare affordable and accessible to all without discrimination.
The administration and Congress should establish a national effort to end longstanding health inequities, while public and private insurers should adopt policies that mitigate barriers to treatment.
Disparities in healthcare and health outcomes persist in the United States.
Health disparities are attributed to broad structural, socioeconomic, political, and environmental factors that are rooted in years of systemic racism. Certain populations are more likely to experience worse health outcomes, limited access to healthcare services, and lower quality of care based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or geographic location.
These social drivers of health impact more than 80 percent of health outcomes. Leaving social factors unaddressed leads to preventable disparities in health status, medication adherence, and disease outcomes.
For example, lack of affordability is one of the primary reasons patients do not adhere to therapeutic recommendations. Challenges with affordability are especially concerning for people with lower incomes who manage one or more chronic conditions.
An intentional focus on and understanding of health inequities and disparities can serve as a catalyst for change across multiple sectors, including employment, housing, education, healthcare, public safety, and food access. Achieving health equity will require coordinated leadership at the national, state, and local government levels and with the private sector to address social drivers of health, increase access and affordability of healthcare services, and collect and analyze data to track progress.