Congress is about to start debating health care reform again and I'm wondering if they haven't forgotten a huge issue that costs us billions every year. No, it's not the way the medical complex insurance rackets overcharge and hustles all of us out of our cash. I'm talking about the persistent health disparities that plague minority communities even in the era of a black president. (That that president has made health care his signature focus of the moment is a beautifully sad irony).
Check out this video, where Dr. Willarda V. Edwards, the president of the National Medical Association, breaks down the costs of health care disparities. In it, she explains that between 2003 and 2006 health disparities along racial lines cost $1.2 TRILLION in the US. What are those disparities? Higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality and other ailments in black and Hispanic communities compared with whites. Its even more frustrating to think about because many of those ailments are preventable or treatable as long as people have access to doctors or preventative care.
Clearly health care is a huge national issue that could sink our economy if we don't get it under control. But the fact that many of the diseases that cost us so much every year are preventable should make all of us think about what it's costing us if we're not eating right, exercising and seeing our doctors regularly (provided, of course, you have health insurance) already. How many times did you run or walk this week, and if you didn't, how much might you have to pay later in bills to treat hypertension?
Keep that in mind as you work on your finances in 2010.