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Report shows continuing health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities

Health-care access continues to be a challenge for racial and ethnic minorities, according to two reports released today from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Both reports examine data predating the Affordable Care Act, from 2002 through 2008.  The 2011 National Healthcare Disparities Report (.pdf) shows that most disparities in access to health care between those years has not improved and, in some cases, has gotten worse. According to a press release:

Specifically, for 2002 through 2008, Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives experienced worse access to care than Whites on more than 60 percent of the access measures, while African Americans experienced worse access on slightly more than 30 percent of the access measures. Asian Americans experienced worse access to care than non-Latino Whites on only 17 percent of the access measures.

The 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report (.pdf), looks at the state of the health care system as a whole, was also released today. Its results are a little more heartening: Overall health-care quality improved slowly for the general population between 2002 and 2008.  Almost 60 percent of the 250 healthcare quality measures improved, but the median rate of change was only 2.5 percent per year.

Findings from both reports emphasize that more attention is needed is several key areas: diabetes care, overall care for Southern states and disparities in cancer screening and access to care. Of the ten quality measures worsening at the fastest race, three are related to diabetes care and four are related to harm in health-care facilities due to a medication or other intervention.

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