The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated a bitter truth that not all health care is delivered equally. For many individuals, particularly in underserved and minority communities, access to high-quality medical care and the best health outcomes lag behind those of their peers.
Black and Hispanic women, for example, face higher rates of maternal mortality, while a racial divide exists in breast cancer, vision health and many other conditions. Social determinants of health, such as those related to education, income level, housing and other factor, often play a crucial role in contributing to health disparities, and an adage has emerged in the health care field that one’s ZIP code matters at least as much as – or maybe even more than – one’s genetic code.
Proposed solutions to health inequity include taking a data-intensive approach, expanding cross-sector partnerships, and more.
While COVID may have been a catalyst for many to take a closer look at how to fix some of the deep inequities, a consensus prescription for what should be done is harder to come by. Proposed solutions include taking a data-intensive approach; expanding cross-sector partnerships between hospitals, public health agencies and others; exploring meaningful policy; and continuing to boost public awareness and engagement. On Nov. 16, U.S. News hosted a special event on “The State of Equity in America,” featuring thought leaders from business, government, health, the nonprofit world and other sectors exploring economic and health inequities across the country and New York.
In this edition of The Forum, a U.S. News series that brings together multiple perspectives on the big questions of the moment, contributors examine some of the ways that the health care industry and other crucial stakeholders can work to improve health equity.