African Americans pay more for health disparities as they spend $54.9 billion out of $82.2 billion for health care costs and lost productivity, according to a report released by the National Urban League Policy Institute and underwritten by Walgreens Corp.
Because of health disparities, health care costs have grown $59.9 billion, and African-Americans are subject to the majority of this price tag at $45.3 billion, the report finds. The highest health care costs are found in African-Americans in urban areas in the South and Midwest. Meanwhile, health disparities for Hispanics are highest in the West at $5.3 billion and Northeast at $4.3 billion.
"This report underscores the tragic reality that health disparities among African-Americans don't just carry a human cost in higher levels of illness, disability and death; it heaps a financial burden on families who can ill-afford it," says Dr. Valerie Rawlston Wilson, the report's co-editor.
While private insurance plans paid 38.4 percent of the costs for these disparities at $23 billion, individuals and families paid 27.7 percent of those costs at $16.6 billion through out-of-pocket payments. This is greater than Medicare and Medicaid together.
"The findings in this report underscore the urgent need for swift and full implementation of the Affordable Care Act — including Medicaid expansion," says Chanelle P. Hardy, executive director of the National Urban League's Policy Institute. "Access to quality and affordable health care can't come soon enough for these families who are burdened by poor health and unnecessary expenses."
The National Urban League states that it supports ACA because it protects Medicare in budget negotiations, incentivizes Medicaid expansion for all states, and increases minority health professionals with the Health Careers Opportunities Program and the Area Health Education Centers.