Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disparities Cloud Health Improvements In Past Decade, Report Finds

Minority and low-income groups continue to be less likely to have a regular source of health care when compared to the general population, despite efforts over the past decade to remedy the situation. This and other health disparities persist across race, ethnicity, income level and education, according to the final review of Healthy People 2010, which was released Thursday.

Healthy People 2010, the third such effort by federal officials, is a decade-long initiative which established an ambitious set of goals in November 2000 to improve the health of all Americans, and the report details how the country did.

Progress has been made on a number of counts: Life expectancy at birth went up a year from 76.8 years in 2000 to 77.8 years in 2007. Rates of death from coronary heart disease, stroke and other illness decreased over the course of the decade. Nonetheless, health disparities remain a major problem.

"It's a source of ongoing frustration," said Howard Koh, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, which manages the Healthy People initiative. Much of the movement on disparity-related objectives "is certainly not in the right direction," or just stagnant, Koh added.

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