Health disparities across states: 6 new findings

The Commonwealth Fund released a new report April 18 examining racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare access, quality and outcomes across the U.S.

The report, titled "Advancing Racial Equity in U.S. Health Care: The Commonwealth Fund 2024 State Health Disparities Report," examined state health system performance for five racial and ethnic groups — (non-Hispanic) Black; white; American Indian and Alaska Native; Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander; and Hispanic (any race). 

Groups were evaluated among 25 indicators of health system performance, which were grouped into three performance domains: health outcomes, healthcare access, and quality and use of healthcare services. A health system performance "score" was then given for each of the racial and ethnic groups in every state where direct comparisons were available between those groups and between groups in other states. More detailed methodology information is available here

Six findings from the report:

1. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, which stood out for their relatively high performance for all racial and ethnic groups, still have considerable disparities in access to care, the quality of care people receive and health outcomes. 

2. Healthcare systems in certain states, including Oklahoma, West Virginia and Mississippi, perform poorly for all racial and ethnic groups for which the Commonwealth Fund was able to calculate overall performance scores. 

3. Preventable mortality rates are higher for Black and white residents in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri compared to most other parts of the U.S.

4. In states including New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, premature death rates for Hispanic residents are higher than other places in the country, where those rates align more closely with rates for white residents.

5. Massachusetts, Hawaii and New Hampshire perform best overall for Hispanic people, and Oklahoma and South Carolina perform worst.

6. South Dakota, North Dakota and Alaska have the worst-performing health systems for American Indian people, and North Carolina's system is the best for this group. The Commonwealth Fund was not able to calculate scores for most states for this group, however.

Read the full report here.

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