Race, class gaps remain even as overall healthcare improves

March 9, 2011

While the overall health of the nation is slowly improving, race and class still are very important in determining patients? access to, and quality of, healthcare, according to recent reports from HHS?s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

While the overall health of the nation is slowly improving, race and class still are very important in determining patients’ access to, and quality of, healthcare, according to recent reports from HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The Congressionally-mandated reports gauge healthcare quality using core measures in the areas of effectiveness, patient safety, timeliness, patient-centeredness, care coordination, efficiency, health system infrastructure, and access.

Overall, African-Americans, American Indians and Alaskan natives received worse care than whites for about 40% of the core measures, while Asians and Hispanics received worse care than whites for 20% and 60% of core measures, respectively. Poor people received worse care than high-income people for 80% of core measures.

Healthcare improves nationally at about 2.3% a year, the reports conclude, with the greatest improvements in the treatment of acute illnesses or injuries. Screenings for preventive services and immunizations increased slightly, but measures of lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation and preventing drug use and obesity showed virtually no change.

You can find the reports online at http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr10.htm.