The National Urban League Wire
Published: Wed. Dec 31, 1969 at 7:00 pm | Updated: Wed. May 1, 2013 at 11:15 am | Comments: 1
State of Urban Health: Eliminating Health Disparities to Save Lives and Cut CostsExecutive Summary
For over 100 years, the National Urban League (NUL) has been committed to the mission of economic empowerment in underserved communities – a mission that is inextricably linked to the reduction of racial health disparities in America. Health disparities inflict a significant level of illness, disability, and death on the nation’s racial and ethnic minorities. However, in addition to excess morbidity and mortality, health disparities impose a significant economic burden on society. In 2009, health disparities cost the U.S. economy $82.2 billion in direct health care spending and lost productivity. African Americans bore the majority of that cost with $54.9 billion, followed by Hispanics with $22 billion. The Southern region of the country had the highest economic burden associated with health disparities with $35 billion, and the West had the next highest with $26 billion. Over 90 percent of the medical care and lost productivity costs were in urban areas. Private insurance plans paid 38.4 percent of the healthcare costs of health disparities, but the second highest cost burden goes to individuals and families through out-of-pocket payments of 27.7 percent -- more than Medicare and Medicaid combined.
This report helps to make the case for why although the complexity of factors contributing to health disparities makes eliminating them costly, inaction or action that results in further cuts to important health programs that help to address these disparities will prove to be much more costly. Therefore, allocating the appropriate amount of financial resources to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in health is not only a moral imperative, but also a fiscally responsible one.