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AHRQ Releases 2021 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report

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AHRQ has released itsĀ 2021 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, which details the state of healthcare quality and disparities in the United States. The report identifies improvements in HIV and colon cancer care, nursing home care and medication prescribing to older adults. The report also indicates that more work needs to be done to address disparities in important areas. Among the findings:

  • The numbers of people covered by health insurance and those who have a usual source of healthcare have increased significantly.
  • Personal spending on health insurance and healthcare services decreased for people under age 65 with public insurance and increased for people with private insurance.
  • Access to dental care and oral healthcare services remains low and has not substantially improved, particularly for people with low income or who live in rural areas.
  • A multiyear rise in opioid-related hospitalizations had been tapering off prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the opioid crisis has worsened markedly since then. Suicide death rates were rising in all groups for more than a decade before the pandemic. Since then, suicide deaths have decreased in White populations but continue to rise in racial and ethnic minority populations. Limited access to substance abuse and mental health treatment may have contributed to these crises.
  • While Black, Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native communities have experienced substantial improvements in healthcare quality, significant disparities in all domains of healthcare quality persist. Even when rates of improvement in quality exceeded those experienced by White Americans, the improvements have not been enough to eliminate disparities.

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