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Understanding Health Disparities Between Washington D.C.'s Racial Demographics

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Despite the overall progress made by legislative efforts, substantial disparities in healthcare outcomes remain among racial groups in Washington D.C.
Despite the overall progress made by legislative efforts, substantial disparities in healthcare outcomes remain among racial groups in Washington D.C.

Preventable Problems

According to a recent report by Georgetown University, an African American living in Washington D.C. is six times more likely to die of diabetes than an American of European descent. Since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, there have been significant gains in health outcomes and quality life in D.C. according to several surveys. However, these advances have not reached all racial groups equally.

Much of the health disparity and ultimately deaths result from preventable diseases, such as type-2 diabetes. Behaviors that increase or reduce the risk of these conditions can be attributed to societal factors, such as level of education and access to quality healthcare. Further, access to outdoor space, fresh foods, and employment opportunities can also have tremendous impact on one's health.

First World Problems

According to the Economic Policy Institute, workers over the past generation have been producing 74% more, but incomes have only increased 9% more. This gap has had the largest effect on less-educated, non-supervisory workers who are working harder to earn less. This contributes to workers who must often choose between adequate health care and basic necessities.

This work environment for non-managerial employees restricts the time workers can take to attend doctor appointments, take sick leave when needed, get regular exercise, and can also lead to more stress, a key risk factor for many chronic health conditions. For many African American homes, this is the reality.

Not Just a Minority Problem

When a portion of society is in poor health, the entire economy suffers. African Americans and Hispanics are suffering from more otherwise-preventable health problems than whites. Much of this is due to functional problems with the logistics of healthcare, as well as a lack of income and insufficient education on health issues.