Why should I care?
In 2012, it was reported that “the current generation of children and young adults in the United States could become the first generation to experience shorter life spans and fewer healthy years of life than those of their parents”. 1 In fact, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2015, American life expectancy decreased for the first time in more than two decades.2
To live up to our nation’s health potential, there are three important system changes that must be considered.
More Americans need health insurance. The Affordable Care Act has brought health insurance to an additional 20 million Americans.3 However, as of 2015, more than 28 million people remained uninsured.4
More Investment is needed in health and prevention. Seventy-five percent of our health care costs are related to preventable conditions like obesity, heart disease, tobacco use, and unsafe sex practices.5 Yet less than 3 percent of our health care spending is focused on prevention through public health.6 Every 10 percent increase in funding for community-based health programs is estimated to reduce deaths due to preventable causes by up to 7 percent.7
Health disparities exist among numerous populations and should be addressed. Health inequities related to income and access to coverage exist across demographic lines, but population-based disparities are impossible to deny as well. For example, African American women are more than twice as likely to die during pregnancy compared to white women 8 , and Hispanics are 65 percent more likely to have diabetes than whites .
References: Provide Quality Health Care for Everyone 1 APHA: The Prevention and Public Health Fund Issue Brief, June 2012 2 National Center for Health Statistics: www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db267.pdf 3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 2016: www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/03/03/20-million-people-have-gained-healthinsurance-coverage-because-affordable-care-act-new-estimates 4 Kaiser Family Foundation: http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population 5 APHA: Prevention and Public Health Fund 6 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditure Data: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/ Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NHE-Fact-Sheet.html 7 Health Affairs, Evidence Links Increase in Public Health Spending to Declines in Preventable Deaths, August 2011: http://content.healthaffairs.org/ content/30/8/1585.full.pdf+html 8 Families USA. African American Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites: http://familiesusa.org/product/african-american-healthdisparities-compared-to-non-hispanic-whites 9 Families USA. Latino Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites: http://familiesusa.org/product/latino-health-disparities-compared-nonhispanic-whites