Healthcare Costs for Ethnic Minorities In the US Top $450 Billion, Up 40% Since 2014

Healthcare expenditure for minorities in the US has increased 40% between the years 2014-18, with the Black/Afro-American population representing the largest burden

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May 19, 2023 | 01:26 PM

Bloomberg Línea — The racial and ethnic divide in healthcare in the US cost the country $451 billion, according to a Tulane University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), based on pre-pandemic data.

The data shows a significant increase in the cost over four years earlier, in 2014, when the cost was $320 billion, an increase was just over 40%.

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The size of expenditure

If that cost is compared with the GDP of Latin America’s largest economies, the significant size of the expenditure can be judged.

For example, considering that Mexico’s GDP is almost $1.3 trillion, spending on US minorities represents more than 35% of that. Meanwhile, Brazil’s GDP is $1.6 trillion, with healthcare spending in the US representing 28% of that, while in Argentina, whose GDP is $487.2 billion, the percentage is 92%.


Likewise, the figure has a greater impact if health inequalities measured by educational level are taken into account, and which show that people with education below college-degree level generated an expenditure of $978 billion, approximately twice the annual growth rate of the US economy in 2018, the year of the survey.

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The Black/African-American population had the greatest economic burden in the US, consuming $85.5 billion (69% of the total expenditure), due to the higher premature death rate among that population. Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders cost the $23.225 billion, while American Indians/Alaska Natives accounted for $12.35 billion and had the highest economic burden per person.

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Premature deaths represented the highest health cost to the US. This was seen in the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander group (90%), Black/African American (77%), and American Indian/Alaska Native (74%) populations.


Meanwhile, excessive healthcare costs and loss of labor market productivity were the highest spending factors among Asian (55%) and Hispanic/Latino (43%) populations.

“The results of this study demonstrate that health inequity not only represents unfair and unequal health outcomes, but also has a financial cost,” said Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and director of the study.

“Investing in achieving health equity would not only help people live longer, healthier lives, but would also generate economic dividends that would benefit community well-being in the long term. Undoubtedly, significant resources will be needed to address health inequities, but it is also true that the costs of not addressing health inequities are substantial.”

Researchers from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Uniformed Services University, TALV Corp, and the National Urban League also collaborated on this study.

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Geographical distribution of health inequities

The greatest economic burden arising from racial and ethnic health inequities was concentrated in five states, and which are the country’s most populous and diverse: Texas ($41 billion), California ($40 billion), Illinois ($29 billion), Florida ($27 billion), and Georgia ($21 billion).

In terms of ethnic groups, Blacks/African-Americans had the largest economic burden in the most states (33 out of the 50 US states), followed by Hispanics/Latinos (nine states), American Indians/Alaska Natives (eight states), and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (one state).

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