Friday, September 18, 2009
Today, September 18, 2009, on the front page of CNN.com there is a story of three Americans who died, when they didn’t have to. While all three had treatable and perhaps even preventable health problems they also had several other things in common. They delayed seeking medical care until it was too late, because they did not have insurance. This all too familiar story is being played out all across America and is at the heart of the current Healthcare Reform debate. But perhaps the most surprising thing about this story is not their tragic and avoidable deaths, but that all three were White. Their pictures tell a story about Healthcare Disparities that has not been told. No longer is it just a Black or Minority thing, increasingly it’s a White thing too! Perhaps the reason there is no large scale public action or reaction to the problem of Healthcare Disparities is because many people largely believe it happens only to poor minorities. Let’s do the math. In yesterday’s blog, we saw that there are approximately 307,470,979 people living in America. About 70% of these are White, 13% are African-American, another 13% are Hispanic and 4% other. According to CNN, the Census bureau indicates that approximately 15% of Americans are uninsured. Because minorities are much more likely to be poor, many people may have come to believe that Healthcare Disparities primarily occur among African Americans or minorities. Let’s assume for the moment that only 10% of whites are impacted by Healthcare Disparities but 50% of African Americans are affected. At these rates that would mean that approximately 21.5 million whites would be affected compared to19.9 million African Americans! At these levels more than 1.5 million more Whites are affected than African Americans. You do the math then look around; you may know more uninsured Whites than you do uninsured African Americans. But does it really matter? It shouldn’t. But given the current antics in congress and the actions of many in the public, it appears that some tend to make judgments about the seriousness of a problem based on how they think it will affect them or those “like” them instead of how the problem is actually affecting us all.