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Racial Disparities in Health Care Cost Big Bucks

Washington AFRO, News Report, Staff Posted: Oct 13, 2009

Racial disparities impose massive burdens on U.S. taxpayers, according to a study commissioned by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and carried out by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

Between 2003 and 2006, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans faced $229.4 billion of excess costs due to health inequities. Including lost productivity, lost wages, absenteeism, family leave, and premature death, the amount leaps to $1.24 trillion.

The Census Bureau estimates that half of United States residents will be people of color by 2042, and researchers said eliminating health inequities can provide an important source of savings for the country.

Increasingly, the health of our nation is defined by the health of people of color, said Brian Smedley, vice president and director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. We ought not to leave them behind. We ought to ensure that health care reform addresses the needs of all populations and ensures that everybody can live to their best possible standard of health.

Researchers found that minority Americans experience poorer than average health outcomes and have shorter life spans. Minimizing inequities in health care access and outcomes, they said, may be good for the nations fiscal health.

10/13/09 Update: On the eve of a critical vote regarding health care reform legislation in the Senate Finance Committee, the group AHIP - America's Health Insurance Plans issued a report on how they believe reform would affect the private insurance industry.


Health reform could have a significant impact on the cost of private health insurance coverage. There are four provisions included in the Senate Finance Committee proposal that could increase private health insurance premiums above the levels projected under current law: Insurance market reforms coupled with a weak coverage requirement, A new tax on high-cost health care plans, Cost-shifting as a result of cuts to Medicare, and New taxes on several health care sectors.

The overall impact of these provisions will be to increase the cost of private insurance
coverage for individuals, families, and businesses above what these costs would be in
the absence of reform.

On average, the cost of private health insurance coverage will increase:
26 percent between 2009 and 2013 under the current system and by 40 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented.

50 percent between 2009 and 2016 under the current system and by 73 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented.

79 percent between 2009 and 2019 under the current system and by 111 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented.

Related Articles:

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A Doctors Word -- Black Americans Can Escape the Smoking Trap

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