Structural racism, people's environment led to worse health outcomes for minorities, per report

Report called for a more diverse workforce and making changes to health care payment systems.
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Posted at 10:01 AM, Jun 27, 2024

A new report details racial and ethnic inequalities in health care.

Health care needs to diversify its workforce to get rid of racial inequalities, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Researchers found every state in the U.S. experienced inequalities despite legislation meant to improve health outcomes for minorities. The report said structural racism and people's surroundings contributed to worse health outcomes for minority patients.

One example researchers gave was that Black patients with diabetes have hospitalization rates over 2.5 times higher than those for White patients. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine added that non-White patients are less likely to receive newer, higher-cost drugs and diabetic technology.

“Eliminating health care inequities is an achievable and feasible goal, and improving the health of individuals in the nation’s most disadvantaged communities improves the quality of care for everyone,” said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “This is not a zero-sum game — we are all in this together.”

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The assessment noted some progress since a 2002 National Academy of Medicine report titled "Unequal Treatment."

The report says that the Affordable Care Act helped give health care coverage to millions of low-income Americans and has been associated with improved access to health care services for all racial and ethnic groups, but there have been obstacles in implementing all of the ACA's provisions.

Some potential solutions outlined in the report include hiring a more diverse workforce and making changes to health care payment systems to make care more affordable.