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Health Care Capsule: Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

GAO-21-105354 Published: Sep 23, 2021. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 2021.
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Fast Facts

People from various racial and ethnic groups may experience health disparities—preventable differences in health outcomes. Discrimination, economic instability, and lack of health care access are some of the factors that can contribute to these disparities.

Our 2-page "capsule" draws from several GAO reports to provide examples of these health disparities, such as COVID-19, maternal mortality, chronic health conditions, as well as disparities among veterans. We also offer policy considerations to help the federal government better understand health disparities and promote health equity.

Medical personnel holding the hand of a patient wearing medical wristbands and lying in bed.

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This capsule draws from a number of GAO reports to describe examples of racial and ethnic health disparities, barriers that may contribute to disparities, and federal efforts to help address them. In this capsule, GAO cites policy considerations and reiterates recommendations to improve gaps in race and ethnicity data.

For more information, contact Alyssa M. Hundrup at (202) 512-7114 or

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Access to health careAfrican American womenElectronic health recordsHealth careHispanic AmericansRacial and ethnic groupsRacial disparitiesVeteransLife expectancyDeaths