Lack of education breeds disparities despite equal access to care

Improved access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act won't necessarily narrow the care disadvantage gap for less educated patients, according to a new brief from the Virginia Commonwealth University's (VCU) Center on Society and Health.

People with less education tend to have more challenges accessing healthcare services like primary care providers, lower rates of insurance coverage, and less money for copayments and prescriptions. And healthcare access alone doesn't eliminate the relationship between education and health, the brief states.

People with less education are in worse health than those with more education, even with the same access to care, VCU found. The brief cited unpublished member survey data from Kaiser Permanente that found 69 percent of adults with a college education described their health as very good or excellent, compared to just 32 percent of those who didn't have a high school diploma. Additionally, 36 percent of those without a high school diploma said physical health problems interfered with their daily activities, compared to just 13 percent of college graduates.

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