By Brian Smedley
America’s Wire Writers Group
WASHINGTON-The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is an achievement Americans can be proud of. Making sure that all our brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, have proper health insurance makes us a stronger, more prosperous nation.
Amid this important change, however, we cannot ignore the work that remains to be done, especially in communities of color. Insurance cards are not enough.
To become a society with better health—not just better health coverage—we must also look at the role “place” plays in the lives of minority communities.
Where we live, work and play is surprisingly predictive of lifespan. Within the city of Boston, for instance, people in some census tracts live 33 years less than those in nearby tracts. In Bernalillo County, N.M., the difference is 22 years.
Researchers are releasing “Community Health Equity Reports” at the Place Matters 2013 National Health Equity Conference on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C. Data from Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, New Orleans and other cities demonstrates that where you live is a powerful determinant for how long you’ll live.
“Health equity” may sound like a jargon term, but it’s really a simple and just concept: all people should have equal opportunities for good health.
Unfortunately, in conversations, people often reduce health issues to questions of access to health care or to behavior; in other words, if people only ate right, exercised, or saw a doctor regularly, health inequities could be eliminated.