Effective: March 2012
Not all Americans have equal access to or similar outcomes from health care, according to HealthCare.gov. Depending on your race, ethnicity or income level, you may have a higher incidence of certain diseases, fewer treatment options and reduced access to care and insurance.
Countering decades of disparity is a tall order, but the Affordable Care Act aims to do so by accelerating data collection, funding community health centers, increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the health care professions and, by 2014, providing affordable health insurance for all through insurance exchanges.
"More and more health plans are tracking (these) data to first identify and then help address these gaps in care," says Zirkelbach.
"It's a huge issue," says Anna Lambertson, executive director of the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition, a statewide advocacy group in Topeka, Kan. "Health disparities include women's access to health insurance and being charged higher premiums because of gender. If we can find a way to help people navigate the health care system so they are not going to the ER to receive routine care, we can actually lower costs."