Universal coverage may not eliminate health disparities

My lede:

The 32 million Americans expected to obtain insurance coverage by 2019 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are likely to have better access to health care. But if Canada’s experience is any guide, disparities in health outcomes will continue.

Researchers followed 14,800 Canadian patients over 10 years and studied their use of health care services and health outcomes. Although all the patients were insured under Canada’s single-payer health system, health outcomes varied by patients’ income and educational levels, said a study in the February issue of Health Affairs.

“There is evidence out there that giving people who are uninsured some health insurance coverage will reduce disparities,” said David A. Alter, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author. “The word of caution is that will not eliminate disparities.”

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