HHS Secretary Sebelius Releases New Report on Health Disparities

WASHINGTON - (Business Wire) U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new report on health disparities in America and participated in a White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussion on the importance of reform that reduces disparities that exist in our current health care system. The new report Health Disparities: A Case for Closing the Gap is available at www.HealthReform.gov.

"Minorities and low income Americans are more likely to be sick and less likely to get the care they need," Secretary Sebelius said. "These disparities have plagued our health system and our country for too long. Now, it's time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to pass reforms this year that help reduce disparities and give all Americans the care they need and deserve."

A Case for Closing the Gap highlights some of the glaring disparities that exist in the current health system. Under the status quo:

  • Forty-eight percent of all African Americans adults suffer from a chronic disease compared to 39 percent of the general population.
  • Eight percent of white Americans develop diabetes while 15 percent of African Americans, 14 percent of Hispanics, and 18 percent of American Indians develop diabetes.
  • Hispanics were one-third less likely to be counseled on obesity than were whites -- only 44 percent of Hispanics received counseling.
  • African Americans are 15 percent more likely to be obese than whites.

The report also notes that 40 percent of low-income Americans do not have health insurance. About one-third of the uninsured have a chronic disease, and they are six times less likely to receive care for a health problem than the insured. In contrast, only 6 percent of high-income Americans lack insurance.

Later today, Secretary Sebelius will co-host a White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussion on health disparities with Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, and Tina Tchen, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. The discussion is part of the administration's continuing series of White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussions. The discussion will begin at 12:00 p.m. EDT and can be viewed live on www.HealthReform.gov.