Overcoming Obstacles to Health

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Braveman, Paula and Egerter, Susan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2008) Overcoming Obstacles to Health. Working Paper. UNSPECIFIED.


Social differences in health can be reduced, but only if solutions can be identified to address their root causes. The greatest potential lies in solutions that will help people choose health. That means both strengthening individuals’ ability to make healthy choices and removing obstacles to choosing health. It also means creating more opportunities to be healthy. The human impact of health is clear: Health is essential to well-being and full participation in society, and ill health can mean suffering, disability and loss of life. The economic impacts of health have become increasingly apparent. If current trends continue, medical care costs, now about 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),1 will reach 20 percent of GDP by 2015.2 The costs of medical care and insurance are now out of reach for many households, pushing some into bankruptcy. These costs are draining employers’ resources, threatening the bottom line of many American businesses. Federal, state and local health care spending is straining government budgets. Our society’s aging and the obesity epidemic will further increase costs of care.