The subject's condition is improving, but lingering complications rule out a clean bill of health--such were the findings of the comprehensive study Health, United States, 1998, released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The latest data show that in general Americans are healthier than ever: the average life expectancy in the U.S. has reached an all-time high of 76.1 years.
But some people--namely, the poor and certain minority ethnic groups--are still being left behind. For instance, life expectancy for white Americans is 76.8 years, but for black Americans it stands at just 70.2 years. In an effort to remedy the problem, the federal budget for 1999 includes just over $220 million to eliminate inequities in health by 2010. But even as the initiative proceeds, scientists are still wrestling with the reasons behind such disparities--making the prospect of devising solutions that much more difficult.