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Health Disparities and the Affordable Care Act

Health Disparities and the Affordable Care Act

By Martha Saenz Vol . 18, No. 40 / October 2010

General Information

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Health disparities refer to gaps in the quality of health and health care.

The term health disparities refers to gaps in quality of health and health care for specific populations in regard to disease and access to health services. These disparities exist among racial and ethnic minority groups, people who live in rural areas and people with disabilities. Many factors contribute to these health disparities, including inadequate access to care, poor quality of care, living in rural areas without enough doctors and clinics, community features,and personal behaviors.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, together referred to as the 2010 Affordable Care Act, contain provisions that could reduce health disparities. These provisions aim to improve the quality of care, reduce costs, increase access to care, fortify the health care workforce and make health coverage more obtainable. It is expected that 32 million additional Americans will have health insurance by 2019. State policymakers play a significant role in implementing health reform provisions. They can decide how to incorporate the law into existing programs, create new programs and initiatives, and seek appropriate grants and funding.

   

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