The Difference Between Health Equity and Equality

December 7th, 2022
Population Health Management & Improvement  |  
Social Determinants of Health
The Difference Between Health Equity and Equality

When discussing health equity and disparities, it’s important to first understand the difference between the two terms. The CDC defines health disparities as the metric used to measure and describe the differences in health outcomes between different groups, while health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health.1 

Many populations experience health disparities, but the most impacted groups include some racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, women, people who are LGBTQI+ and people with limited English proficiency.  

Equal access in health care has long been a goal, but more recently the focus has turned to equity. Though health equality and health equity both strive to achieve better outcomes and access to health care services, they are not the same. Equality refers to equal access for everyone, while equity aims to adjust resources for disadvantaged groups to truly create an even playing field.  

Equity means fairness in health care outcomes, regardless of the impact of any Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). The CDC’s statement on health equity notes the expectation for equal treatment and care for everyone, regardless of their background.2 

Over the last several years, population health and medical fields have made significant advancements in addressing this area. Even so, health equity remains an ongoing focus for policy makers and leadership in the health care industry. In order to successfully improve population health, we must remain aware of the disparities within the populations we are analyzing, and find appropriate solutions to address them.  

To that end, we are excited to announce an upcoming e-guide focused on addressing health equity using the ACG System, “Disparities in Health Care and How Population Health Analytics Can Help”. In this free e-guide, you’ll learn how to:

    • Address health equity using data you already have
    • Identify disparities in practice and policy
    • Develop an impactful health equity strategy

Keep an eye on our blog to be the first to read it when it’s released. Or click here to subscribe to our email list to be notified about future blog posts and start receiving valuable insights from population health experts at Johns Hopkins. 

If you have any questions or want to learn more about the ACG System, please email us at acginfo@jh.edu or if you are an existing ACG System customer, please contact your account manager. 



1) https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/healthequity/index.html

2) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/cdc-strategy.html   

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