Why should I care?
The then Institute of Medicine reported in 2012 that "the current generation of children and young adults in the United States could become the first generation to experience shorter life spans and fewer healthy years of life than those of their parents."1 In fact, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2017, American life expectancy dropped for the third year in a row.2
We can and must do better. To live up to our nation's health potential, there are three important system changes we must address.
More Americans need health insurance. The Affordable Care Act has brought health insurance to an additional 20 million Americans.3 That's amazing progress. However, as of 2017, more than 27 million people remain uninsured.4
The U.S. must invest more in health and prevention. Seventy-five percent of our health care costs are related to preventable conditions like obesity, tobacco use and unsafe sex practices.5 Yet less than 3 percent of our health care spending is focused on prevention.6 Prevention investments are more than a smart use of public dollars — they can also save lives. Every 10 percent increase in funding for community-based health programs is estimated to reduce deaths due to preventable causes by up to 7 percent.7
Health disparities exist among numerous populations. Health inequities related to income and access to coverage exist across demographic lines, but population-based disparities are impossible to deny as well. For example, as reported by Families USA, African American women are more than twice as likely to die during pregnancy compared to white women,8 and Hispanics are more likely to have diabetes than whites.9
What can I do?
With one vote, Congress could turn back the progress we have made to insure millions of Americans and refocus on prevention and health. To keep the health of America moving in the right direction, visit APHA's health reform page to stay abreast of challenges that threaten to undo much of the progress embodied in the Affordable Care Act.
Join Generation Public Health today and become part of the movement! We'll celebrate progress and highlight new challenges. We'll let you know about opportunities to influence policy decisions. We'll give advice and support for efforts in your community. We're in this together.
SIGN OUR PLEDGE to create the healthiest nation in one generation!
1 APHA: The Prevention and Public Health Fund Issue Brief, June 2012
2 National Center for Health Statistics
3 U.S Department of Health and Human Services
4 Kaiser Family Foundation
5 APHA: Prevention and Public Health Fund
6 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditure Data
7 Health Affairs, Evidence Links Increase in Public Health Spending to Declines in Preventable Deaths, August 2011
8 Families USA. African American Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites
9 CDC: Hispanic/Latino Americans and Type 2 Diabetes