Dr. Crutchfield, what do people mean when they use the term “health disparity”?
Merriam-Webster defines disparity as “the state of being different.” The term “health disparities” refers to several conditions. It almost always refers to differences in groups relating to their socioeconomic status, race and/or gender. It can also mean differences in the presence of certain diseases within groups. It can mean the outcomes of disease treatment in these groups. It can mean the quality of health care and access to healthcare services that exist within these groups. Disparities can also be caused by a lack of efficiency within the healthcare system. As a result of the lack of efficiency, some studies (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies) have speculated that approximately $50 billion are spent wastefully every year in the U.S. By reducing or eliminating health disparities, there could be a significant savings to the healthcare system accompanied by an overall increased quality of health care. Continue Reading →
In 2002, April was designated as Minority Health Month to increase awareness about health disparities that exist for people of color. Even though April 2014 Minority Health Month is now past, we must continue to address health disparities head on every month of the year. Health disparities exist when certain segments of the population have higher rates of preventable diseases and mortality. Many populations are affected by disparities, including racial and ethnic minorities, residents of rural areas, women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. In a recent report to the MN legislature on health equity, the MN Department of Health stated that although Minnesota is deemed one of the healthiest states, African Americans and American Indians in the state have continued to experience higher rates of preventable disease as well as reduced life expectancy. Continue Reading →
By Michelle Lawrence
People of African heritage in Minnesota experience higher rates of chronic disease, morbidity and mortality compared to nearly every other cultural group in the state, according to fact sheets compiled by the Minnesota Department of Health. Yet, despite these dismal facts, which would discourage some and certainly overwhelm others, there are women champions in our community. One such champion is Dr. Wilhelmina Holder, executive director of W.I.S.E (Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment), who work diligently every day to improve the health status of Minnesota residents of African heritage, and to reduce disparities among them and other cultural groups in the state, particularly residents of European American descent. Growing up in her native country of Liberia in West Africa, Dr. Holder learned from concrete experience that access to health care can improve health statistics and save lives. “I am driven by the teachings of Jesus Christ,” she says when asked of her personal and professional motives. Continue Reading →
A recent report by the National Urban League Policy Institute found that African Americans continue to pay a disproportionate price for health disparities, spending $54.9 billion of the total $82.2 billion for the U.S. in healthcare costs and lost productivity. The report, “The State of Urban Health: Eliminating Health Disparities to Save Lives and Cut Costs,” examined the economic impact of health disparities in the U.S. using two measures: 1) direct medical costs and 2) the indirect cost due to lower labor market productivity. According to the report:
Health disparities in the U.S. resulted in $59.9 billion in increased healthcare costs, with African Americans bearing most of this cost with $45.3 billion. African Americans living in urban areas in the South and Midwest saw the highest healthcare costs. For Hispanics, the costs of health disparities were largest in the West ($5.3 billion) and Northeast ($4.3 billion). Continue Reading →