Health policy and ethnic diversity in older Americans. Dissonance or harmony?


The rapid growth and diversity of the older population have long-term implications for health care policies in the United States. Current policies designed for a homogeneous population are increasingly obsolete. To ameliorate obstacles that handicap many ethnic minority elders and to provide equal access to adequate and acceptable health care, several factors need to be considered. Enhanced data collection and analytic techniques are needed. The effects of race or ethnicity must be separated from other biologic, environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, and temporal factors on health status and behavior. Health care professionals and organizations serving minority elders must continue to expand their advocacy efforts to articulate the findings and their concerns to policymakers. Policymakers must understand and acknowledge the implications of an increasingly diverse society and determine what will constitute adequate, accessible, and acceptable health care within continuing fiscal constrains. Program planning, implementation, and evaluation methods must be revised to meet future health care needs effectively and efficiently.

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