A brief published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines how societal factors like race, gender and education can affect health disparities. The brief examines new findings on the topic such as patterns related to geography.
The figure shows disparities in life expectancy by race and gender. Hispanic females have the highest life expectancy while black males have the lowest, regardless of their educational attainment. The common thread in this chart is that the more educated a person is, the longer they are likely to live. Furthermore, the report points out that the gap in life expectancy between those who have 16 or more years of education and those with fewer than 12 years has increased over time.
The study also suggests that there are some preventable disparities based on three categories: behavioral (diet, exercise, etc.), social (an individual’s home, neighborhood, and peer groups), and health care. Each of these factors may play a role in physical health (like diabetes and cancer) or mental health (such as depression or anxiety). The evidence also suggests a correlation between a person’s health and health insurance status. With the Affordable Care Act poised to expand health care coverage to most Americans, there is hope of reducing the role of uninsurance on health disparities in the U.S.