ANNUAL REPORT CARD ON THE NATION’S HEALTH SHOWS RACIAL AND ETHNIC HEALTH DISPARITIES PERSIST

hus15_cover_FINALThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released “Health, United States, 2015”. This is the 39th annual report card on the nation’s health, along with a special feature on racial and ethnic health disparities.

The special feature was inspired by the landmark 1985 Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health (Heckler Report), which documented significant health disparities among racial and ethnic groups.

Findings:

  • The difference between the highest (non-Hispanic black) and lowest (non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander) infant mortality rates among the five racial and ethnic groups narrowed from 9.41 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1999 to 7.21 in 2013.
  • During 1999–2014 non-Hispanic black mothers experienced the highest percentage of low-risk cesarean deliveries (29.9 percent in 2014) among the five racial and ethnic groups while non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native mothers experienced the lowest (21.5 percent in 2014).
  • Among Hispanic mothers during 1999-2014, Cuban mothers experienced the highest percentage of low-risk cesarean deliveries among the five Hispanic-origin groups (41.4 percent in 2014) while Mexican mothers experienced the lowest (24.1 percent in 2014).
  • In 2011–2014 for children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, Hispanic children and adolescents had the highest prevalence of obesity (21.9 percent) and non-Hispanic Asian children and adolescents had the lowest prevalence (8.6 percent).
  • The difference for women between the highest (non-Hispanic white) and lowest (non-Hispanic Asian) percentages of current cigarette smokers among racial and ethnic groups narrowed from 17.5 percentage points in 1999 to 13.2 in 2014 (percentages are age-adjusted).
  • The difference between the highest and lowest percentage of uninsured adults aged 18-64, narrowed from a difference of 24.9 percentage points in 1999 (Hispanic adults compared with non-Hispanic white adults) to a difference of 19.9 percentage points in the first six months of 2015 (Hispanic adults compared with non-Hispanic Asian adults).
  • In 2014 among adults aged 18-64, Hispanic adults had the highest percentage of those not receiving needed dental care in the past 12 months due to cost (15.7 percent) and non-Hispanic Asian adults had the lowest percentage (6.3 percent).
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