Reducing the Chronic Disease Burden in Connecticut: The Importance of Addressing Access to Coverage and Care

On May 28, the Connecticut Department of Public Health released the state’s chronic disease prevention plan, Live Healthy Connecticut.  The plan identifies 12 priority areas for action to reduce the chronic disease burden in Connecticut.

The chronic disease plan has a major focus on modifying risk factors such as smoking, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.  It sets five year goals for change.  For example, it sets targets for reducing the percent of adults who smoke.  It also sets targets for specific diseases and conditions:  obesity, heart health, cancer, diabetes, asthma and oral health.  The plan pays particular attention to health equity, setting targets in some cases that are specific to race or income.  Finally, the plan has sections on both health care quality and health care access.

The recently published Connecticut Health Care Survey, funded by six health foundations including Universal Health Care Foundation (UHCF), provides a useful baseline about the burden of the following chronic diseases in Connecticut:  diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease and cancer. As reported in the survey’s Executive Summary, approximately 28 percent of residents between the ages of 18-44 reported they have been told they have at least one of these conditions.  This number rose to 48 percent among those aged 45-64.

The Connecticut Health Care Survey also collected useful information about access to coverage and care.  UHCF engaged researchers from Yale University’s School of Public Health to use this data to write a policy brief, Access to Coverage and Care:  Targeting Implementation of the Affordable Care Act to Improve Health in Connecticut.  The brief echoes several of the same concerns raised in the chronic disease plan regarding the wide variation in health status, access to health insurance coverage and access to a regular source of care that exists among different populations in Connecticut and makes  recommendations for improvement.

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