Racial Disparities in Health Care
Not all citizens are offered equal health care in the U.S. Barriers like insurance, access to care and discrimination keep a large part of the country’s population from receiving much-needed medicine and procedures. Let’s take a look at what racial disparities exist in health care today.
Racial Minorities in the U.S.
In the year 2000, 33% of the U.S. population identified as a racial or ethnic minority. By 2050, it is expected that this group will comprise of 50% of the U.S. population. (2)
Percentage of children who belong to a racial or ethnic minority (1)
Minority numbers today (2)
Race/Ethnicity Identifier: Population in U.S.:: Percentage of population
Hispanic/Latino: 45.5 million:: 15.1%
Black: 38.8 million:: 12.9%
Asian: 13.4 million:: 4.4%
Native American/Alaskan Native: 2.9 million:: 1%
Hawaii Native/ Other Pacific Islander: 0.5 million:: 0.2%
Poorer Health in Minorities
The occurrence of preventable diseases in minorities is much higher than in white Americans. Each racial group faces their own heightened propensity toward specific diseases because of the lack of access to regular care. (1,3)
40% greater risk than whites of having high blood pressure, leading to heart disease and failure, kidney disease and stroke.
2.1 times more likely to get diabetes and much more likely to experience massive complications due to the disease, often requiring amputation.
37.3% of blacks are obese.
Almost 50% of blacks live with a chronic illness or disability.
Infant mortality rate for blacks is 2.5 times greater than whites.
Blacks are 10 times more likely to have AIDS than whites.
2.3 times more likely than whites to get diabetes.
Much higher rates of mental illness persists in the American Indian population, including addiction and
Over 9% of American Indians suffer from asthma that remains untreated.
More than twice as likely to get diabetes than whites.
Why do such differences exist?
Minority groups often lack access to clinics and specialists because of income and housing areas.
Black and Hispanics are twice as likely to live in poverty as whites.
Hispanics are three times less likely to have a regular health care provider than whites. 51% report having no doctor.
An inability to afford insurance as well as working fewer jobs that offer company-paid coverage contributes to less access to preventative medicine.
The average cost of health insurance for an individual is $6,025. For family coverage, this jumps to $16,834.
Percentage of increase in insurance premiums since 2004.
Cases of preventative or diagnostic screenings are much lower in minorities, yet cancer rates are higher.
Black men are 50% more likely to have prostate cancer than white men and twice as likely to die from it.
What Can We Do?
Racial disparities in health care account for $35 billion in excess expenditures each year. So the need for equality in care isn’t just a moral issue, but a financial one as well. What can be done to close the gaps?(5)
1. Provide affordable insurance coverage to all Americans.
2. Promote a diverse health care workforce that cares about these issues.
3. Build more and better clinics in low-income areas for higher rates of health care access.
4. Maintain accurate data to document racial disparities in care and screenings.
5. Educate people of all racial groups about their risks and medical predispositions.