As better understanding of health and sickness has led to superior ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases, the health of most Americans has improved dramatically. However, ample evidence indicates that some Americans do not receive the full benefits of high-quality care. A substantial body of public health, social science, and health services research has shown extensive disparities in health care related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 directed AHRQ to track "prevailing disparities in health care delivery as it relates to racial factors and socioeconomic factors in priority populations." The priority populations to be tracked are:
In addition, this legislation directs AHRQ to examine health care delivery in rural areas.
AHRQ has reports, chartbooks, and data on health care disparities.
Chartbooks include a summary of trends across measures of health care from the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports and figures illustrating select measures of health care. The chartbooks address six priority areas, as well as several priority populations:
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)-Household Component survey collects demographic characteristics, allowing health care disparities to be examined for any topic within the survey. Most Household Component Summary Data Tables provide data by age, sex, race/ethnicity, health insurance status, poverty status, geographic region, urban vs. rural status, and health status. This page contains links to MEPS Statistical Briefs that address health care disparities.
Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project
AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project provides information on disparities, including statistical briefs that cover disparities in depth.