Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Economic Impact of Racial Inequalities in Health

This morning at the National Press Club in Washington was the release of “The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities” a report I co-authored with Darrell Gaskin of the University of Maryland, and Patrick Richard of George Washington University. The report details the economic impact that health inequalities has on the U.S. economy. This project was a labor of love. We had been seeking financial support for it for several years. The Washington, DC-based think tank the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation generously provided that support. If you were unable to attend the report’s release or view the live webcast, you can view it by following this link.

Our analysis found that, between 2003 and 2006, 30.6% of medical care expenditures for African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics were excess costs that were the result of inequities in the health status of these groups. Between 2003 and 2006, the combined direct and indirect cost of health disparities in the United States was $1.24 trillion (in 2008 inflation-adjusted dollars). This is more than the gross domestic product of India, the world’s 12th-largest economy in 2008, and equates to $309.3 billion annually lost to the economy. By comparison, the health insurance reform proposal released yesterday by Senator Max Baucus (Democrat of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee) estimated the cost of its proposed reforms to be $856 billion over 10 years.Over that same period racial health inequities would cost over three trillion dollars.

The full report is available at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies website, or you can find a link at my website,