Race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographic location, and other characteristics historically linked to exclusion or discrimination have been shown to influence health status. Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, are more likely to suffer from serious illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, and are less likely to have access to quality health care. HHS is dedicated to improving the health of all people and is developing policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity.
- Achieve Health Equity
Through the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, HHS has outlined goals and actions it will pursue to eliminate health disparities. In order to ensure access to primary and coordinated care, HHS is taking action to help increase the proportion of persons with a usual primary care provider and to increase the number of patient-centered medical homes that provide comprehensive and coordinated primary care. HHS is also funding new and existing community health centers, which provide services to many racial and ethnic minority populations.
- Ensure Access to Quality, Culturally Competent Care for Vulnerable Populations
HHS is working to improve the cultural competence and diversity of the health care workforce, as well as address disparities in access to health care. HHS is expanding the primary care workforce and encouraging health care professionals to practice in health shortage areas through the National Health Service Corps. HHS is increasing the number of students from populations underrepresented in the health professions, training more people in medical interpretation to help serve patients with limited English proficiency, and training community workers to help people navigate the health care system.
- Improve Data Collection and Measurement
HHS is improving the monitoring and collection of health data by race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status, and is planning for the collection of additional health data. These efforts are helping researchers, policy makers, health providers and advocates to identify and address health disparities afflicting vulnerable communities. Better data can help researchers understand and eliminate health disparities by helping to identify areas of need and better target responses.