Dr. Glen Stream writing for Medical Economics:
Chances are, if you’re poor or a member of certain racial, ethnic or socioeconomic groups, you’re much more likely to die younger. You’re also more likely to experience worse health outcomes and suffer more from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other serious conditions. Poverty and low income are also associated with higher rates of infant mortality and higher death rates for all 14 leading causes of death.
Between the healthiest and the sickest people in the United States, there’s a persistent health equality gap—and the gap is widening.
Health disparities among the poor (14.5% of the U.S. population fell below the poverty line in 2013) or among those who lack decent educational, lifestyle or job opportunities, “serve as a barrier to health equity across a wide range of diseases and health behaviors,” the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) notes.
He notes that 65 million Americans today live in a “primary-care desert,” lacking access to the primary care physicians who account for more than half of all visits to doctors. This problem is particularly acute in minority, low-income and rural communities.