Affordable Care Act Helps Measure Health Care Inequality

New standards released by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services will shed light on health care disparities linked to race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status.

Posted: 11/01/2011 12:39 PM EDT
Filed Under health care

Affordable Health Care Act

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services announced new standards to measure disparities in health care based on race and other factors.


The standards, announced Monday, are based on new requirements from the Affordable Care Act, and will allow much more detailed analysis of current health care delivery as it affects different groups.


"It is our job to get a better understanding of why disparities occur and how to eliminate them. Improving the breadth and quality of our data collection and analysis in key areas, like race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, is critical to better understanding who we are serving," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


By adding Latino “sub-categories” such as Mexican-American, Chicano/a, Puerto Rican, Cuban and other Spanish origins to explicit categories required on all Health and Human Service surveys, the department is better able to track such patterns as the diabetes-related mortality rate, which is twice as high for Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans as it is for Cuban-Americans.


"Many racial and ethnic minorities, people with limited English proficiency, people with disabilities and other populations face unique health challenges, often have reduced access to health care and often pay the price with poorer health," said Garth Graham, M.D., MPH, HHS deputy assistant secretary for minority health.


For more specifics of the final standards, visit here.



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