Prevention: Reducing Health Disparities and Improving Health Equity

By Mayra Alvarez, Director of Public Health Policy, HHS. Crosspost from Healthcare.gov

Today, we posted a new factsheet outlining the many ways in which the Affordable Care Act will reduce health disparities across the U.S. All across the country, low-income Americans, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT, and other underserved populations have not had adequate access to health care.

This means, these underserved populations are not able to take advantage of preventive services available to help them stay healthy and fight chronic disease. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act:

  • Healthy choices will be made easy and affordable. All insurance plans will provide more Americans access to preventive services. Medicare and some private insurance plans will now cover recommended preventive services and states will be encouraged to do the same in Medicaid.
  • Access to quality health care in underserved communities will be improved. Over the next 5 years, the law provides $1 billion in funding for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers across the country and invests in healthcare workforce programs.
  • Programs will be better targeted through advance scientific knowledge and innovation. The law invests in implementation of a new health data collection to identify and reduce disparities.
  • Create a fairer and easier way to understand the health care system. In 2014 insurance discrimination will be banned. A new, competitive health insurance marketplace will be created in 2014 to enable people to “one-stop-shop” and choose quality, affordable health insurance.

For more information on HHS’ commitment to reducing health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, check out the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, which was announced this past April. Built on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act, the HHS Action plan is aligned with programs such as Healthy People 2020, the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, and the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy. This Action Plan outlines the goals and actions HHS will take to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by promoting integrated approaches and best practices to reduce these striking disparities.