Inequalities in income, race, ethnicity and gender are driving differences in health outcomes – making some Americans sicker and increasing infant deaths, according to major new research released today by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among the findings: Lower income people have fewer healthy days and infant mortality rates are up to three times higher for black women. The report provides detailed information on a variety of health issues, from coronary heart disease and accidents to air quality and HIV infection.
One chapter notes: “Healthy housing is essential to a healthy community and population”, and reports that householders earning $25,000 or less are five times more likely to live in inadequate housing than those earning $75,000 or more.
The report also notes: “Rates of preventable hospitalizations increase as incomes decrease… eliminating these disparities would prevent approximately 1 million hospitalizations and save $6.7 billion in health-care costs each year.” CDC Director Thomas Friedman offers this conclusion: “Differences in health based on race, ethnicity, or economics can be reduced, but will require public awareness and understanding of which groups are most vulnerable, which disparities are most correctable through available interventions, and whether disparities are being resolved over time. These problems must be addressed with intervention strategies related to both health and social programs, and more broadly, access to economic, educational, employment, and housing opportunities. The combined effects of programs universally available to everyone and programs targeted to communities with special needs are essential to reduce disparities.” There is also a growing body of evidence on inequality in Toronto and Canada.