Published on Monday, 30 April 2012 10:14
It seems we can’t go more than a few weeks before we come across another report demonstrating the growing national problem of disparities in healthcare for women of color. Today’s news of ongoing healthcare disparities comes from the State of Nebraska.
Here is just a sample of what the report issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Women’s Health Advisory Council:
“A report issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Women’s Health Advisory Council shows that while Nebraska is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, women of color continue to experience disparities in deaths, health outcomes, preventive care, health care access, and social determinants of health.
From 2007-2009, Black women in Nebraska were more likely than women of other racial/ethnic groups to die from cancer, heart disease, and stroke. American Indian women and Hispanic women were more likely to develop diabetes, and American Indian women more likely to die from the disease.
"Addressing health disparities is one of my top priorities," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Services. “While multi-cultural and ethnic issues are challenging, it’s our goal to close the gap and help more Nebraskans live healthier lives."
Racial/ethnic minority women face greater barriers in access to health care and use of recommended preventive services. Black women were less likely to have mammograms, while Hispanic women were less likely to receive cholesterol screening than White women. Hispanic and American Indian women were less likely to report having personal doctors. Minority women were less likely to have doctor visits in the past year, due to cost.”
As our nation continues to focus on healthcare and health insurance issues, it is reports like this that demonstrate that the status quo cannot be the answer to our national healthcare problems. If you are concerned about healthcare costs, this report demonstrates that by not providing preventive care to everyone we see the development of disease like diabetes that cost our nation large amounts of dollars to treat. If you are worried about a mandate for health insurance, by not creating a way to ensure that everyone has health insurance (mandate, single payer or any other idea) we create growing disparities in healthcare that cause real harm to women of color. We need to stop playing politics with healthcare and start implementing a real solution. The inability to address access to healthcare has real costs to all of us.
The other point that reports such as these by the State of Nebraska demonstrate is that with our nation quickly becoming a “majority minority” nation, we need to ensure that our healthcare professionals start to reflect the diversity of our nation. We strongly believe that many of the problems in our current healthcare system can be connected to the lack of cultural understanding by healthcare professionals. There should be no reason for women of color to be less likely to receive cholesterol screenings or mammograms. But they do and it is a growing problem.
So far the debate/discussions on healthcare reform have been largely silent on the issues of cultural awareness and diversity. At some point elected officials, healthcare advocates and healthcare professionals associations must bring this issue to the table. If we don’t start to put in place solutions to cultural issues we will continue to see report after report that demonstrates growing disparities.
We hope that our readers will share this latest report from Nebraska with friends and family. You can read the media release by following the link.