Quality healthcare is necessary to improve the health of disadvantaged populations, but it is not enough to eliminate the adverse effects of limited education.

That is the conclusion of a new policy brief released by Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health. The brief, titled “Health Care: Necessary But Not Sufficient,” features new data from Kaiser Permanente and is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Highlights of the report include:

*People with less education have worse health than those with more education—even when they have the same access to healthcare. According to new Kaiser Permanente data, 69 percent of adults with a college education describe their health as “very good” or “excellent,” compared to only 32 percent of those who lack a high school diploma.

*Even in countries with universal healthcare access, this pattern holds true. In the United Kingdom, where the entire population has access to the National Health Service, illness rates are higher for people with less education.

In addition to self-reported data, the trend also holds true for verifiable health outcomes, like mortality. For example, Kaiser data also show that the risk of death is lower among diabetes patients with more education, despite the fact that members at all education levels have access to the same health system for diabetes care.

"The Kaiser data offer a reminder that medical care is not everything," VCU representatives said. "People with less education lack access to other resources (financial resources, community resources such as access to healthy food and others) that affect the management of diabetes and its progression to early death."

The brief is available here.

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