People who do not have regular access to primary care go without the preventive and routine services that can stop the root causes of disease and detect illness in the early stages when treatment is most effective. African Americans and Latinos are twice as likely as whites to rely upon a hospital outpatient department as their regular source of care, rather than a doctor’s office where there are greater opportunities for continuity of care and patient-centered care.
There are debates about the cost savings that can be achieved from the delivery of preventive health care. One of the other major drivers for a prevention agenda in health is the relationship between the health of the community, workforce participation, and national productivity.
Provisions in all the current health care reform proposals that remove cost-sharing from recommended preventative services will benefit those Americans who currently cannot afford them and also contribute to reducing the disparities gap.
Most of the recent analyses of disparities in health show that early life influences are critical to lifetime health status. Addressing needed care and interventions for pregnant women and their babies is an effective way to give young children the best start in life and may help reduce the longer term risks of adult chronic illnesses. Yet the evidence suggests that there are major disparities in maternal and child health services to minorities.
The House and Senate bills both have provisions to support programs for home visits to at-risk families with young children, based on the Nurse-Family Partnership program. This is a nurse home-visiting program that has been shown to improve the health, well-being, and self-sufficiency of low-income, first-time mothers and their children.
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