As the Kansas Health Foundation works to improve the health of all Kansans, one concept is interwoven throughout it’s work: health equity. From grantmaking to policy work to news and information, KHF is working to always put a focus on how its efforts can reach vulnerable populations and overcome systemic barriers.
Simply put, regardless of race, income, geography or education, the Kansas Health Foundation believes every Kansan has the right to be healthy where they live, work and play. On this page, find out more about the concept of health equity and how it plays a role in everything our organization does within its four impact areas.
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health equity is often referred to as the highest level of health for all people. Achieving this type of equity often requires addressing health disparities related to social and economic factors, including conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.
A key factor in the efforts to reach health equity comes from addressing what are known as the social determinants of health. This includes things like quality schools and housing, access to good jobs and healthy food, and safety of our neighborhoods.
These types of health disparities exist everywhere, including in Kansas. The use of data spotlights inequities for specific population groups or by geographic location, which helps the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) determine priorities and allocate resources most effectively. Below are a few examples of statistical disparities in our state.
The maps below express a variety of indicators related to the health equity of Kansas. In each case, the maps show county-level data.
Kansans of all walks of life live in frontier, rural, densely-settled rural, semi-urban and urban settings. While an average of 35.6 people live per square mile in Kansas, as few as 1.6 live in Greeley County and as many as 1,272.6 live in Johnson County. Below, learn just how many people live per square mile in each Kansas County. This data comes from the 2019 Kansas Statistical Abstract.
Health outcomes in communities have been found to be higher in areas where populations make livable wages. Household income is one measure for the economic viability of a given population, and in the map below, household income is shown for each individual county. This data comes from the 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.
Though the median household income in Kansas has been slowing rising in recent years, these gains in income have not kept pace with inflation or the rising costs of health insurance.
Economic factors play a key role in nearly every health outcome. Those living in poverty are more likely to be unemployed, which means they likely have no access to health insurance coverage. Those living in poverty are also at a much greater risk for obesity-related illnesses, and they use tobacco products at a much higher rate. In the map below, these county-by-county poverty rates come from the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates.
Poverty is a complex issue. According to the Federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, many factors can contribute to inequitable access to resources and opportunities, which may result in poverty. Marital status, education, social class, social status, income level, and geographic location (e.g., urban vs. rural) can influence a household’s risk of living in poverty. Addressing poverty remains a root issue in efforts to produce healthier communities.
There is an increasing need for adequate internet access, which is required for telehealth, education, business and social services. Without proper access to internet, it’s hard for these individuals to receive the proper care, education or social activities needed to succeed. Disparities in broadband access were further exposed during COVID-19. The data below indicates what percentage of county households have broadband internet connection, which includes cable, DSL, fiber-optic, cell phone or satellite subscriptions.
Access to reliable, high-speed broadband internet service improves employment, education and health care opportunities. This was apparent when remote learning and telemedicine became the norm, as many Kansans and communities did not have adequate internet access, primarily due to affordability or lack of community infrastructure. KHF has supported this work through the Kansas Community Investment Fund and other contributions.
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