In light of April being National Minority Health Month, it's a good time to review just how much health disparities among different populations is costing people in medical expenses.
To be clear, "health disparities" don't only refer to the disparities in health outcomes between minority groups and whites in America; they also refer to differences in health outcomes that are tied to gender, religion, mental health, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.
What do all of these disparities cost in terms of medical expenses from preventable illnesses?
A whopping $50.3 billion, according to the Office of Minority Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Though health disparities involve a variety of factors that go beyond race and ethnicity, racial and ethnic minorities continue to lag behind other populations in many health outcomes, according to OMH. "They are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, more likely to suffer from serious illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, and when they do get sick, are less likely to have access to quality health care," OMH states on its website.
OHM goes on to state that racial and ethnic health disparities are often linked to social, economic or environmental disadvantages, such as lack of access to good jobs, unsafe neighborhoods and lack of affordable transportation options -- conditions known as the social determinants of health.
Healthify's goal during National Minority Health Month is the same it's always been, all year round: to improve access to social programs that can help vulnerable populations, including minorities but also other underserved populations. That means using technology to efficiently connect people to programs that can help them with basic needs such as food, housing and job placement, in the hopes that gaps in health disparities can one day be closed.