Lack of insurance is biggest problem
Not only do healthcare disparities continue to be a chronic problem in the U.S., but disparities for cancer, heart failure and pneumonia deserve special attention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported last week.
The group’s annual National Healthcare Disparities Report was released simultaneously with its National Healthcare Quality Report on patient safety (See story, above). In its disparities report, the AHRQ said that in the measures that track both quality of care and access to care, disparities persist for all populations. And, as before, a lack of insurance continues to be a leading cause of healthcare inequalities among populations.
“We always think about a model that thinks about voltage drops,” said Carolyn Clancy, director of the AHRQ. “If you think about the transformer and the outlet in your house, there is a lot of potential for drops along the way,” she said, likening this model to healthcare. “One is: Are you offered insurance? A second is: Can you afford it if you are offered it?” she added. “A third is: How generous is the coverage? Some of the coverage is like a hospital gown—depending on how you look at it, you’re covered.”