Achieving Health Equity

Why health equity matters and what you can do to help give everyone a fair shot at being as healthy as they can be.

Why Equity Matters

Across the nation, gaps in health are large, persistent and increasing—many of them caused by barriers set up at all levels of our society. After all, it's hard to be healthy without access to good jobs and schools and, safe, affordable homes. Health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who we are, where we live, or how much money we make.

What budget reconciliation could have been and what Congress must do next

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is a moment to celebrate—the investments in climate change and healthcare needs alone are historic. But we shouldn't lose sight of how the ambitious legislation envisioned last fall—including everything from paid family and medical leave to the extended Child Tax Credit and more—was sacrificed because of the politics of the moment. As the nation’s largest health philanthropy, RWJF had hoped for a far broader and more equitable effort to help create an America in which race and ethnicity, income level, neighborhood, disability, occupation, and immigration status no longer determine how long and how well people live. The fight must continue, write Richard Besser, RWJF president and CEO, and Avenel Joseph, vice president of Policy, until health equity is a reality for all rather than a distant aspiration for too many.

Read op-ed in The Hill

Advancing Health Equity Learning Collaborative

The Advancing Health Equity Program is seeking teams of state Medicaid agencies, Medicaid health plans, health care provider organizations, individuals, and communities experiencing inequities to work together to eliminate unjust differences in health and healthcare using an anti-racist approach. Learn more and apply.

Health Equity and COVID-19

The coronavirus response continues to highlight inequity as COVID-19 hits hardest those facing economic, housing, health insurance coverage, and food insecurity issues.

Browse the Collection

The Interplay Between Culture and Health

This video series explores how cultural filters shape the way each of us understands and pursues health and well-being, from our perceptions of health to where patients seek help and the types of treatment patients prefer.

NOTE: If you would like to download this video, along with a guide to these videos and other training materials, RWJF asks that you complete this permission form (please include name of the video or material in the “title” field) and send to

Rediscovering the Healing Power of Horses

Series//Cultures and Health

A teen works with horses in a field.
  1. A teen works with horses in a field.

  2. Mackenzie's Path

  3. Equity Video - Zindy

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Rediscovering the Healing Power of Horses

Rediscovering the Healing Power of Horses

Landmark Work

Communicating About Health Equity

Advocate for policies that advance equity by better understanding the different groups you need to reach and how they think about health. Explore the interactive.


Explore the Evidence

Health is about much more than genetics and medical care. Research has shown that the conditions we face as we live, learn, work and play—what researchers call the social determinants of health—also have a lot to do with how healthy we are.

How does inequity play out in America today? Through:


Discriminatory Practices

Discrimination is a prominent and critically important matter in American life, with significant and harmful effects on health and well-being.

Early Childhood

More than 40 years of research shows that early care and education programs can help narrow inequitable gaps.


There is evidence that underserved populations are located at a greater physical distance from services in rural communities.

Structural Racism

Research suggests that racism, spanning systems from medical care to housing and hiring to the criminal justice system, adversely affects health in multiple ways.

Unstable Housing

Policy changes that respond to the specific needs of each community are essential to promoting inclusive and connected neighborhoods, reducing displacement, and enabling opportunity.

Wealth & Income

Parents’ wealth shapes their children’s educational, economic and social opportunities, which in turn shape their children’s health throughout life.

What's Working in Other Countries

Health Equity: What We're Learning from the World

Three RWJF-supported reports offer important insights, lessons, and solutions that we can adapt and learn from to advance health equity in the United States.

Latest Health Equity News & Research

Health Equity in Action

Health equity is crucial to a vibrant nation. Unfortunately, many areas have experienced generations of isolation from opportunity. Policies and practices at every level have created deep-rooted barriers to good health. Because of this, far too many start behind and stay behind.

At the same time, communities are increasingly recognizing that when everyone has the opportunity to live their healthiest lives, we are all better off. They are thinking in new ways about the many systems that influence health, from education and housing to transportation and public safety. And from parents and educators to health providers and business leaders, they are coming together around a common goal of better health for everyone.

What You Can Do to Take Action for Health Equity

From small steps you can take right now to larger policy changes you can help support.

If you ...