среда, 19 сентября 2012 г.

Blacks Die Younger Despite Access to Health Insurance - Precinct Reporter

Anderson, Dianne
Precinct Reporter
Undaunted by months of probing and countless hours of interviews, the
African American Health Initiative released its local study involving input
from hundreds of residents and healthcare providers, and revealing some
surprising conclusions.

What they found will signal a shift of focus for the organization toward
solving the San Bernardino county-wide crisis that leads Blacks and Latinos
to die 13 years earlier than whites.

In the past, the best guess was that Blacks didn't have access to
transportation, to insurance, to adequate health facilities, or any number
of other excuses, to meet their health needs.

But in the final analysis, the survey found that nearly 80% of African
Americans had some form of insurance, and 75% indicated they had seen their
doctor for a checkup within the past 18 months.

AAHI Health planning project coordinator, Diane Woods, said the findings
were far more dramatic than she and many health providers expected.

'I didn't realize that Blacks have such a high level of insurance. You can
break it all out, but any way you turn, we don't have that issue of not
having insurance,' said Woods, MSN, RN.

Most health discussions in recent years have centered on universal
healthcare, which is good, she said, but African Americans already have
sufficient insurance. Blacks also have been seeing their doctors for
routine check-ups all along, the study shows. The local numbers for
insurance also coincide with national census data.

According to a 2001 California Health Interview Survey, a collaboration of
the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the state public health,
department of health services and several other agencies, reported that
over 90% of African Americans have medical insurance.

In that survey, Blacks fell only one percentage point lower than whites for
health insurance, but are more prone to death and disease than other races.

If not access, another valid yet hotly disputed reason in unequal treatment
is racism. Woods cited an Institute of Medicine study in 2002 showing race
bias against minorities, even when access to health insurance is the same
as whites.

The Institute of Medicine is an independent research arm that advises
Congress, and took over 100 studies into consideration in the making of the
562-page report.

'People in our nation, most of them are not comfortable dealing with the
issue of race, and when you boil it down, you're dealing with an issue of
race,' Woods said. 'We're not calling for a band-aid, we're not calling for
a quick fix. We're calling for doing what is right.'

In San Bernardino County, the public health department's recent data shows
that both Blacks and Hispanics are dying 13 years younger.

Woods, a Dr. P.H. candidate at Loma Linda University, formerly supervised
the Pennsylvania Department of Health chronic disease division, serving
over 13 million residents in areas of cancer control, diabetes, and chronic

She is also currently in discussions with several Latino health
professionals that hope to emulate the survey in their community.

Among the recommendations, the study concluded the need to mobilize
healthcare providers countywide to address healthcare needs of African
Americans, to develop an effective and accountable public/private
collaboration, and an Afrocentric health plan to target high blood
pressure, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

AAHI is seeking funding to implement the survey's recommendations, an
expected $10 million project, Woods said.

Over the past decade, study after study points to race bias in medicine,
and Black professionals are strongly revisiting earlier questions of
institutionalized racism to explain why Blacks suffer the highest death
rates from cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and HIV/AIDS than
any other single U.S. racial or ethnic group.

Dr. Ancel Rogers, president of the J.W. Vines Society, a local association
of African American doctors, said there have been several notable studies
confirming that Blacks receive unequal treatment in the doctor's office.

Citing several national health sources, Rogers identifies the disparities.
African Americans are less likely to receive the right heart medications
following coronary events, less likely to have a coronary bypass surgery
and are less likely to receive peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplants
for end-stage renal disease. All of this, despite similar incomes,
insurance status, age, co-morbid conditions and symptom expression.

'Despite rapid medical advances, and continued overall U.S. health care
improvement, ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans, suffer
higher disease, morbidity and mortality rates than non-minorities,' Rogers

'The concern is that even in instances where there is equivalent access to
care, and with equivalent health care funding, African Americans and other
ethnic groups are less likely to receive even routine diagnostic testing
and treatment,' he said.

Article copyright Precinct Reporter Group.