Health Disparities

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition that “is not only the absence of illness and infirmity but the ability to cope with the consequences of those diseases or conditions.” A wide variety of definitions are used for these purposes over the course of time. The definition does not encompass every possible condition or disease, but it does include important conditions that are common in most modern societies. The ability to relate to and manage these conditions is the basis of good health.

The best definition of health is that it is a state of well being that eliminates or prevents sickness and disease. This means that even though the definition has changed over the years, people still take good care of themselves physically. This also includes the prevention of diseases that could eventually lead to sickness and disease. The definition of healthy, appropriate, and desirable is a continuously evolving concept, which is determined by culture and society and influenced by medical knowledge and research.

The ability to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle is dependent on the ability to manage personal health care. Public health is concerned with the overall well-being of the population as a whole. The major components of this concern are the overall rate of infant and child mortality, morbidity and mortality, community health, and disability, all of which are influenced by social causes and concerns. Public health also addresses environmental and behavioral causes, such as exposure to toxins, cigarette smoke, air pollution, occupational hazards, food safety, and tobacco use. All health care settings must be well integrated to promote healthy activity, eating, working, and living.

In clinical practice, the most widely accepted definition is that of having a normal, satisfactory, and characteristic profile of health (HCP). The definition may be further subdivided into three key dimensions: individual-based; system-based, and contextual. Individual-based health is focused on the individual’s body, mind, and society in general. System-based health focuses on the system or organization within an institution. Contextual health is the sum of all the different aspects of the HCP.

The Health Equity Index (HEI) measures the disparity in health outcomes for racial/ Ethnic groups as defined by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s annual statistics. HEI indicates the disparity in health status between economically disadvantaged and wealthier groups. An hei index greater than 0.30 indicates that the health disparities are severe enough to be of public concern. Health Equity refers to differences in health for blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and women. Over time, health equity gaps have widened some, but gaps still exist according to some definitions. Health equity also refers to differences in health for adults and children.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 made it easier for patients to access the medical records of their doctors. This made it easier for researchers to evaluate health equity and discover methods to eliminate health equity and improve healthcare for people who were at risk for health disparities. In addition to improved access, HIPAA also made it illegal for healthcare providers to discriminate against patients based on health, race, gender, or other protected classifications. As a result of the changes made by HIPAA, health care providers are required to collect and maintain detailed patient information about their patients’ healthcare, including demographics and personal information. This information is used to calculate rates for health services and health conditions that include hospitalization, preventive care, emergency care, and other hospital stays. Health plan companies are also required to provide accurate information about their health plans and services to help customers determine whether they are meeting their needs.

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