What are Health and Health Care Disparities?
Health disparity: A higher burden of illness, injury, disability, or mortality experienced by one population group relative to another group.
Health care disparity: Differences between groups in health insurance coverage, access to and use of care, and quality of care.
Why do Health and Health Care Disparities Matter?
- Addressing disparities in health and health care is not only important from a social justice standpoint, but also for improving the health of all Americans by achieving improvements in overall quality of care and population health. Moreover, health disparities are costly, resulting in added health care costs, lost work productivity, and premature death.Recent analysis estimates that 30% of direct medical costs for Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans are excess costs due to health inequities (Figure 1) and that, overall, the economy loses an estimated $309 billion per year due to the direct and indirect costs of disparities.
Figure 1: Excess Medical Expenditures Due to Health Inequities
What is Needed to Reduce Disparities?