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Rural Health Information Hub

Making the Case for Health Equity

Rural communities may be able to secure continued funding for health equity efforts if they can demonstrate the economic impact of reducing inequities.

Not only is advancing health disparities consistent with societal values of justice and equity, but it can also have a financial impact. Ensuring that each person — without regard to gender, race, or socioeconomic status — receives the tools and resources they need to achieve health leads to improved health for the entire community.

As described in Module 5: Evaluation Considerations for Programs Designed to Improve Health Equity, rural communities should carefully consider what evaluation measures will demonstrate the impacts of their activities. For example, in addition to evaluating a program's impact on health, rural communities may also benefit from showing financial impacts and savings.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Making the Case for Equity describes the ways that investing in health equity can help organizations:

  • Comply with regulatory requirements and become eligible for federal dollars
  • Prepare for changes in reimbursement and new healthcare market demands
  • Meet quality goals
  • Fulfill organizational mission and vision goals
  • Improve perception among key collaborators
  • Maintain — or even improve — financial stability

While many efforts that address making the case for equity focus on healthcare organizations specifically, there is much more to health than visits to a healthcare provider. Clean air and water, neighborhood walkability, safety, and the local economy all impact a community's health. This means that in addition to healthcare providers and organizations, politicians, business owners, farmers and ranchers, city planners, and town managers all play a role in creating rural communities with opportunities for improved health equity.

Resources to Learn More

Creating the Business Case for Achieving Health Equity
Discusses the need for innovative projects to demonstrate the financial benefits of payment reform. Offers six suggestions for how payers can align both financial and non-financial incentives to improve health equity.
Author(s): Chin, M.
Citation: Journal of General Internal Medicine, 31(7), 792-796
Date: 7/2016

Health Equity and Value
A collection of resources — including case studies, webinars, podcasts, and blogs — to help healthcare organizations advance health equity.
Organization(s): American Hospital Association (AHA) Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

It's Time to Connect Rural Health Equity with Community and Economic Development
Discusses the characteristics of rural America and the role of the community to understand rural health equity. Identifies resources addressing rural economic development and its impact on health equity.
Author(s): Ferguson, K. & Badger, K.
Organization(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
Date: 11/2019