Disparities and Health Care Costs

Today’s Managing Health Care Costs Index is 41%

The Kaiser Family Foundation, an exceptionally good resource on almost anything in health care policy, publishes a summary of research and articles on health care disparities each month.   For MLK Day, a few of the articles from January.

The toll of diabetes on Hispanics near the Mexico border continues to increase.  41% of Hispanic children in Arizona are overweight, compared to 22% of Arizona white children. More teens and young adults have Type II diabetes – which will subject them to a lifetime of poorer health.

African Americans have higher BMI, eat more poorly and exercise less than whites. However, researchers have shown that these differences are strongly correlated to socioeconomic status (SES).  When SES is adjusted for, the differences vanish.

Living in decaying neighborhoods was strongly related to risk of premature birth – more strongly than race

Uninsured and minority patients get less appropriate discharge instructions and post-hospital care after hospitalizations for trauma.

Those with low SES and racial minorities were more likely to be exposed to high levels of air pollution in the US Northeast.

Black women were more likely to get diabetes after having gestational diabetes, even after adjusting for BMI and other characteristics.

The differences in prescribing of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) between whites and blacks disappeared by 2006.

My summary – the health outcomes and ultimate health care costs of children still have more to do with where they live and the color of their skin than the content of their character.   There is plenty of work left to do.