Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Launches Commission To Study Effect of Socioeconomic, Other Factors on Health
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Thursday launched a commission that will seek to determine the effects of factors other than medical care and health insurance status -- such as income, education, housing, diet, exercise and stress -- on the health and life spans of U.S. residents, the Washington Times reports.
Former CMS Administrator Mark McClellan and Alice Rivlin, an economist at the Brookings Institution and a visiting professor at Georgetown University, will co-chair the nonpartisan effort, called the Commission to Build a Healthier America. The coalition also will include former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
According to commission leaders, health insurance status is only one factor that affects the health and life spans of residents (Fagan, Washington Times, 2/29). RWJF said that the coalition will seek to "identify and recommend practical solutions to address the many medical influences on health" and to "improve opportunities for more Americans to make healthier choices" (Robbins, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 2/29).
RWJF on Thursday released a report that looked at how education, income, race and ethnicity play a role in health. Findings include:
- Blacks are more likely than whites to die from many health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer (Hille, Washington Examiner, 2/29);
- Residents who have not graduated from high school are more than four times as likely to have poor or fair health than college graduates;
- College graduates on average live five years longer than residents who do not graduate from high school;
- Higher-income residents on average live two years longer than middle-income individuals; and
- About one in three lower-income residents has a chronic disease, compared with about one in 10 higher-income residents.
Rivlin said, "While we must make health care delivery more efficient and broaden access to care, the medical system addresses only some of the factors influencing health," adding, "There is more to health than health care" (Washington Times, 2/29).
The report is available online (.pdf).
A webcast of an event held to announce the commission is available online at kaisernetwork.org. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.