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Seven Ways To Fight Health Inequities

Armen Hareyan's picture

In a series of opinion pieces and two-minute videos, seven Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) faculty offer "Advice to the Next President: 7 Ways to Fight Health Inequities." The series is published in the newly released Spring/Summer issue of the Harvard Public Health Review. The articles and videos are freely available for linking to websites.

This package may help journalists prepare stories during this presidential election season to answer the question: How might the U.S. narrow the gap between health "haves" and "have nots" -- and raise average life expectancy to that of other industrialized countries?

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Currently, the U.S. is ranked 47th in the world. Life expectancy averages 78.1 years, but a large segment of the U.S. population is experiencing a decline in life expectancy. [See life expectancy figures by country.]

Much of the current political debate focuses on health care for the uninsured. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 10 percent of premature mortality in Americans can be traced to inadequate health care coverage. Social and environmental factors beyond insurance coverage create conditions that make poor people three times more likely to die prematurely than wealthier Americans. And even middle-income Americans are more than twice as likely to die earlier than top earners.

In the Harvard Public Health Review, seven HSPH faculty experts suggest concrete ways the next U.S. President can level the playing field for all Americans by promoting policies focused on: