CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report – United States, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report – United States, 2011 (CHDIR 2011)

From the report:
CHDIR 2011 consolidates the most recent national data available on disparities in mortality, morbidity, behavioral risk factors, health care access, preventive health services, and social determinants of critical health problems in the United States by using selected indicators. Data presented throughout CHDIR 2011 provide a compelling argument for action. The data pertaining to inequalities in income, morbidity, mortality, and self-reported healthy days highlight the considerable and persistent gaps between the healthiest persons and states and the least healthy. However, awareness of the problem is insufficient for making changes.
[…] 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.

Some key findings include:

  • Lower income residents report fewer average healthy days. Residents of states with larger inequalities in reported number of healthy days also report fewer healthy days on average. The correlation between poor health and health inequality at the state level holds at all levels of income.
  • Large disparities in infant mortality rates persist. Infants born to black women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to die than infants born to women of other races/ethnicities.
  • Rates of drug-induced deaths increased between 2003 and 2007 among men and women of all race/ethnicities, with the exception of Hispanics, and rates are highest among non-Hispanic whites. Prescription drug abuse now kills more persons than illicit drugs, a reversal of the situation 15–20 years ago.
  • Men are much more likely to die from coronary heart disease, and black men and women are much more likely to die of heart disease and stroke than their white counterparts. Coronary heart disease and stroke are not only leading causes of death in the United States, but also account for the largest proportion of inequality in life expectancy between whites and blacks, despite the existence of low-cost, highly effective preventive treatment.
  • Rates of preventable hospitalizations increase as incomes decrease. Data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicate that eliminating these disparities would prevent approximately 1 million hospitalizations and save $6.7 billion in health-care costs each year. There also are large racial/ethnic disparities in preventable hospitalizations, with blacks experiencing a rate more than double that of whites.
  • Hypertension is by far most prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks (42% vs 28.8% among whites), while levels of control are lowest for Mexican Americans. Although men and women have roughly equivalent hypertension prevalence, women are significantly more likely to have the condition controlled. Uninsured persons are only about half as likely to have hypertension under control than those with insurance, regardless of type.