Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: What State Legislators Need to Know


mother and babyAmericans are living longer, healthier lives than ever before because of social, public health and medical technology advances. Not every community benefits equally from these improvements, however. Persistent and well-documented health disparities exist between various racial and ethnic populations, even when accounting for economic status. Health disparities—differences in health outcomes among groups—often are driven by the social conditions in which people live, learn, work and play. In the United States, these differences are caused by a complex array of factors, which makes it impossible to devise a single policy solution for all instances of health inequality.

This brief provides state legislators with an overview of health disparities that affect various ethnic and racial minorities, existing strategies used to address them, and policy options for lawmakers to consider that may offer effective solutions to these issues.

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