By Kenneth Thorpe, Kathy Ko Chin, Yanira Cruz, Marjorie A. Innocent, and Lillian Singh
Health Affairs Blog
“It is natural to ask whether rising gaps in income might be associated with widening gaps in health and longevity between rich and poor Americans,” Jacob Bor and colleagues noted in an article in The Lancet this spring. This association is bidirectional: If someone is poor, they have a greater likelihood of having chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and associated complications. Illness also restricts financial security, especially within communities of color. The June issue of Health Affairs, Pursuing Health Equity, draws much needed attention to the need to pursue solutions that address the interrelationship between health status and socioeconomic influences.
One unorthodox but highly effective approach to addressing health and socioeconomic disparities in the United States would be to close the racial and ethnic wealth gap in our society by improving health. We argue that such policy solutions should prioritize chronic disease prevention and management, specifically.