Zip Code Not Genetic Code: The California Endowment's 10 year, $1 Billion Initiative
Anthony B. Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities, The California Endowment; Former Director and County Health Officer, Alameda County Public Health Department; Former Director, Health and Human Services, and School Medical Advisor, City of Stamford, Connecticut Where you live shouldn’t predict how long you’ll live, but it does. In many California cities, there is a 15– 20 year life expectancy difference between neighborhoods and that gap is growing. Despite all of the charged political rhetoric about repealing “Obamacare,” this life expectancy difference cannot be explained by lack of access to health care; in fact, research shows that health care is responsible for only about 15 percent of health status. When it comes to your health, your zip code is more important than your genetic code. Why? Using data to study this phenomenon, Dr. Iton has concluded that we cannot address this problem through the traditional medical model. He and his colleagues at The California Endowment have designed a $1 billion, 10-year, multi-site initiative called Building Healthy Communities (BHC) which is designed to break the deadly link between zip code and life expectancy.