Raising Women’s Voices

Mind the Gap

Posted in Health Disparities by raisingwomensvoices on April 30, 2009

According to a new Harvard study, health disparities between those of different socioeconomic groups persists throughout middle age. But at 65, with near-universal Medicare benefits, health gaps narrow between Americans of different races, ethnicities, and education levels.

Previous research has shown that those with health insurance tend to be healthier, and that most likely those without are black, Hispanic, or have less education.

The study tracked health measures in adults ages 4o to 85 who had high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cover_no_words1stroke, or diabetes. After 8 years, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol had all improved–but there remained a gap between socio-economic groups.

After age 65–at which point all in the study were eligible for Medicare–the racial and educational gaps dropped significantly.

Universal healthcare would be beneficial in covering those in the most vulnerable groups. And, as Dr. Ashwini R. Sehgal of Case Western Reserve University writes, “Simply improving quality of care will not eliminate disparities. Because minority, socioeconomic, and insurance status often overlap, providing universal health coverage has the potential to reduce several types of disparities.” 


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