The Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Would Save the U.S. Health Care System Billions of Dollars Annually
A 2011 study estimates that the economic costs of health disparities due to race for African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos from 2003 thru 2006 was a little over $229 billion. In a report issued in September, 2009, the Urban Institute calculated that the Medicare program would save $15.6 billion per year if health disparities were eliminated. The study examined a select set of preventable diseases among the Latino and African American communities, including diabetes, hypertension and stroke, and concluded that – if the prevalence of such diseases in the African American and Latino communities were reduced to the same prevalence as those diseases occur in the non-Latino white population – $23.9 billion in health care costs would be saved in 2009 alone.
As the representation of Latinos and African Americans in the general population increases, health care costs could be reduced even further by addressing racial and ethnic health disparities. Therefore, in addition to the compelling ethical and moral reasons to eliminate health disparities, there are economic reasons to do so as well.