April is National Minority Health Month and this year’s theme, accelerating health equity, reminds us that the quickening pace of change in the health arena provides strategic opportunities to narrow the disparities gaps between people of color and our white friends and neighbors. This month we celebrate the huge coverage gains among immigrants, several state initiatives to remove barriers to immigrant coverage, and Georgia’s big step toward making health insurance provider directories accurate and useful.
Welcome to the new Health Equity Highlights monthly blog! Our Health Equity Connection newsletter has been promoted: Every month, you will now be able to find the latest health equity updates, top resources from Families USA and our partners, and important upcoming events here.
Read on to learn about new marketplace enrollment data, progress in covering immigrant children, upcoming health equity events, and more.
Black History Month inspires us to celebrate the rich history, achievements, and contributions of African Americans in our nation, as well as the hard work that remains to dismantle racism and achieve true racial equality. We agree with Dr. King that fighting injustice in health care is an urgent civil rights issue central to achieving our shared dream of peace, prosperity, and equality for our children. But it is clear that a focus on health care alone will not achieve health equity for African Americans.
Communities of color have long struggled with health disparities when it comes to the prevalence and outcomes of many conditions compared to non-Hispanic whites. This means that not only are these communities more likely to have conditions like diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers, they are also more likely to be sicker and even die from them. While there are many factors that determine someone’s health status, access to care—especially preventive services—is critical to narrowing the health disparities gap for some conditions that disproportionately burden communities of color.
November is Native American Heritage Month, a time for the country to remember and honor the histories, contributions, and struggles of the 566 federally recognized tribes and the 5.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) living in the United States. November is also the first month of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 2016 marketplace coverage. While the federal government is obligated to provide health care to Native Americans through the Indian Health Service (IHS), this blog explains why getting marketplace coverage is a good idea for many AI/AN consumers.
During Hispanic Heritage Month we recognize the various contributions of our nation’s largest minority group and celebrate how far Latinos have advanced. This month is also a time to reflect on the fact that too many Latino communities lack the opportunities to live safe and healthy lives that are the foundation for building a strong, self-sufficient future. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping more Hispanics obtain health insurance than ever before.
Communities of color face significant health disparities and are more likely to suffer from certain chronic conditions, like diabetes, where early detection and treatment could mean the difference between life and death. One way to improve the odds for people with these conditions is to increase access to services, like necessary medications or periodic medical tests, that prevent the progression of, or complications from, those diseases.
Unfortunately for many lower-income consumers with high-deductible health insurance plans, the out-of-pocket expense of this essential care is well beyond their financial reach, causing them to forgo care.
Earlier this month, health equity advocates received an unexpected surprise when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new county-level enrollment data by race and ethnicity from the 37 states that use the federal health insurance marketplace. This level of data had never before been made available to the public.
The activity around payment and system reform creates an opportunity to develop interventions that directly address racial and ethnic health disparities. However, some reforms could inadvertently make disparities worse. For example, they could discourage providers from treating sicker, more complex patients, or undermine the financial viability of struggling safety net providers.
Fortunately, some communities are implementing delivery system reforms that reduce health disparities and bend the cost curve. The effective models we describe in this blog series share several features in common.
Across the country, there is tremendous momentum to change how health care is delivered and paid for in order to improve quality and to curb costs. These initiatives to transform the health system have the potential to improve care for everyone, and could directly address health disparities. Advocates must actively engage in these reform efforts—both to protect communities of color from harm and to take maximum advantage of opportunities to transform health care delivery to better serve people of color.