Health disparities—differences in health and health care experienced by groups based on social, economic and environmental factors—persist across the nation.
Each year, health disparities lead to significant human and financial costs as certain people experience poorer living conditions, worse health status and treatment outcomes, and more difficulty accessing health care services than their peers in other population groups.
State legislators have pursued various policy approaches to reduce health disparities in their communities and states. Through legislative tracking, NCSL has identified multiple strategies being pursued by states, including increasing workforce diversity, improving cultural competence in health care services and addressing the social determinants of health.
This brief explores health disparities with a focus on differences across racial and ethnic groups, recent state action to address disparities, and policy options for legislators to consider in their states.
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