Economic Burden of Health Inequities Very High in the United States

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Estimated economic burden of racial and ethnic health inequities $421 or $451 billion using MEPS and BRFSS data

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The economic burden of health disparities in the United States is very high, according to a study published in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Thomas A. LaVeist, Ph.D., from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, and colleagues estimated the economic burden of health inequities for racial and ethnic minority populations and adults aged 25 years and older with less than a four-year college degree in the United States.

The researchers found that the estimated economic burden of racial and ethnic health inequities in 2018 was $421 billion using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and $451 billion using state-level Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data; the estimated burden of education-related health inequities was $940 billion or $978 billion using MEPS or BRFSS, respectively. The poor health of the Black population accounted for most of the economic burden; however, the burden attributable to American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander populations was disproportionately large relative to their share in the population. Adults with a high school diploma or General Educational Development equivalency credential incurred most of the education-related economic burden. A disproportionate share of the burden was accounted for by adults with less than a high school diploma, bearing 26 percent of the costs despite making up only 9 percent of the population.

“Health inequity represents not just unfair and unequal health outcomes, but it also has a significant financial cost,” LaVeist said in a statement. “While it surely will cost to address health inequities, there are also substantial costs associated with not addressing them.”

Several authors disclosed ties to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts.

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