Reforming The Way Health Care Is Delivered Can Reduce Health Care Disparities

The Affordable Care Act has greatly expanded access to insurance, but having an insurance card does not guarantee access to high-quality care. Expanding coverage is just the first step in improving access to care that is timely, high-quality, language-accessible, and culturally competent.

New approaches in the way that health care is delivered have tremendous potential to improve the quality of care and to reduce disparities in access to care and in health outcomes. This is especially true for vulnerable groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, low-income consumers, and people who live in underserved areas.

The toll that health disparities take can be devastating. Vulnerable groups face greater barriers to care, and when they do receive care, it is often poor-quality. These groups are also more likely to have serious chronic conditions. And they are more likely to experience complications of these conditions and to have worse health as a result. For example, while asthma is only 20 percent more prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks than it is among non-Hispanic whites, blacks die from complications related to asthma nearly three times as often as whites.

 As advocates continue their work to advance health equity and reduce health disparities, adapting and expanding promising delivery reforms across the country must be a priority.

What is “delivery reform”?

“Delivery reform” refers to efforts to reform our fragmented health care delivery system. These efforts generally focus on three goals, known as the “triple aim”: 1) improving the experience of care, 2) improving population health, and 3) reducing health care spending.3 Fundamentally, delivery reform reconsiders some key questions in health care, such as the following: .

» Who delivers services? Can health care professionals take on new, expanded roles in care delivery?

» Which services are being provided? Can data on health care be used to ensure that care is based on the best available evidence?

» Where and how do patients receive care? Can technology help improve access?

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