Inequality of Health Care in the US: Texas

I blogged previously about a life expectancy mapping tool on the CDC web site that shows life expectancy from birth for every county in the US. The map has shown up on a different site with different data.(1) Despite the modification (unexplained), the basic point still apples: Where you live impacts how long you live and whether your children live.

For example, in Virginia, your life expectancy from birth is 8 years longer in Fairfax City (that’s a DC suburb with a life expectancy from birth of 83.7 years) than in Norfolk (75.5 years). It’s 4.6 years longer Fairfax City than in Virginia Beach, the largest city in Virginia (79.1 years).

Now the University of Texas has a system that takes the reporting of health statistics down to the zip code level, and reveals striking variations in health outcomes within a single city.(2) The chart below shows infant mortality rates for zip code areas in the Houston metro area. Some areas have infant mortality rates that are eight times as high as others. This is simply a statistical presentation, with no explanation as to reason.

Understanding a problem is the first step toward dealing with it.


The chart of Houston raises two questions:
(1) How is it fair that one child in a city has 8 times the likelihood of dying than another?
(2) A specific question to the Texas governor and legislature: how is it possible to be “Pro Life” and not care if a child lives after birth? Action is far more meaningful than words, and inaction speaks volumes.

The reporting tools are remarkable and citizens should use them both to understand what the issues are and hold state officials accountable for what they do and don’t do.


  2. The University of Texas System. “Infant mortality rates in Texas vary dramatically from one zip code to the next: Some zip codes in the state have not experienced an infant death in this four-year time period, whereas others have experienced more than 1 percent of their infants dying before their first birthday..” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2018. <>.

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