CDC finds increase in Health Disparities

January 8, 2014 12:19 PM
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the 2013 Health Disparities and Inequalities Report for the United States. Disparities exist when different populations have different health outcomes. According to the report, over the past 10 years, documented disparities have persisted or increased for approximately 93 percent of the Healthy People 2010 objectives. Their analysis of various health-related data sources indicate (the following statements are direct quotes from the report):

  • that residents in mostly minority communities continue to have lower socioeconomic status, greater barriers to health-care access, and greater risks for, and burden of, disease compared with the general population living in the same county or state
  • almost none of the disparities in access to care are improving
  • quality of care varies not only across types of care but also across parts of the country

These disparities not only have a negative effect on minority communities – they also carry a huge financial burden for the rest of the population.  A 2009 study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (based on the years 2003-2006), as reported by the CDC report, found that health disparities for minorities increase direct medical care expenses by $229.4 billion and increase indirect costs by $1 trillion (2003-2006).

Variables that contribute to health disparities include:  non-completion of high school (also related to increase of risk taking behaviors), limited access to healthy food, unemployment (on an individual and community basis), being employed in a high-risk occupation (work-related illnesses and accidents), and proximity to major highways.

Specific to dental, the report finds significant disparities in periodontitis by race/ethnicity, education and poverty level.  Based on this information, the report concludes that: " Preventive dental care programs should be an integral part of preventive health services for all ages and should include strategies to make dental care programs accessible to all racial/ethnic groups to promote health and preserve health-related quality of life in older adults. Adults aged ≥65 years do not have dental coverage through Medicare, and approximately 70% of U.S. adults in this age group have no dental coverage (20). Management of diabetes and smoking is an important component of prevention and treatment of adult periodontitis."  The report also notes disparities in dental coverage.

The full report can be accessed at:  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6203.pdf

 


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