Addressing health disparities and advancing health equity

There are longstanding health disparities in the U.S. — differences in health outcomes and health care among groups of people related to their race, ethnicity, age, disability, gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation.

An older African American man getting a blood pressure test

There are longstanding health disparities in the U.S. — differences in health outcomes and health care among groups of people related to their race, ethnicity, age, disability, gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation. Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease or ESRD) disproportionately impacts minority populations: Black Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 35 percent of Americans with kidney failure and are 3.4 times more likely than white Americans to develop kidney failure.  Native Americans are 1.9 times, and Asian Americans are 1.3 times, more likely than white Americans to develop kidney failure. People of Hispanic ethnicity are 1.5 times more likely to develop kidney failure than non-Hispanics.

To address health disparities and advance health equity so that all individuals have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, AKF advocates for policies that will:

  • Address the social determinants of health (SDOH), which are the social, economic and environmental conditions that affect health and wellbeing and are significant contributors to health disparities. SDOH include income level, educational and job opportunities, access to housing and utility services, workplace safety, gender inequity, racial segregation, food insecurity, early childhood experiences, and exposure to violence and pollution.
  • Ensure equitable access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage.
  • Improve the health care delivery system to make it more equitable, accessible and inclusive, and to ensure high quality care across demographics and geographic regions, including rural and urban areas.
  • Conduct research on kidney disease in communities of color, rural communities and underserved communities. Particularly, we support the CARE for All Kidneys Act (H.R. 3893), federal legislation that aims to improve kidney disease research, prevention, surveillance, and treatment in minority populations and rural and underserved communities.
  • Ensure equitable access to all ESRD treatment modalities, including transplantation and home dialysis, across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic populations and geographic regions to support treatment choice that is clinically appropriate for a person's health needs and their individual circumstances.
  • Improve diversity in clinical trials to ensure participants are reflective of the populations that are most impacted by specific diseases and conditions.
  • Mandate that insurers must accept health insurance premiums from charities, as these programs help communities of color who are more likely to be uninsured.
  • Promote the diversification of the health care workforce and ensure proper training for health professionals to recognize and address implicit and conscious bias and to provide culturally appropriate care.