Blacks, Hispanics Biggest Losers if Health Care Reform Flops
New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Posted: Jul 22, 2009
Editor’s Note: A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that public support for President Barack Obama’s health care plan is decreasing. If the plan fails, blacks and Hispanics, who make up nearly half of the estimated 50 million Americans without health insurance, will be the most affected, says author and political analyst, Earl Ofari Hutchinson.
If President Barack Obama’s drive for some form of universal health care falters the biggest losers by far will be blacks and Hispanics.
Blacks and Hispanics make up nearly half of the estimated 50 million Americans who have no health care insurance, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund. But the danger signs for reform are real. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that public support for Obama’s plan is decreasing.
This is no surprise.
The instant Obama announced he would make health care reform his defining issue reform opponents kicked their attack into high gear. The two hit points are that it’s too costly and too intrusive – meaning that it will snatch from Americans the right to choose their own doctors and health plans and dump health care into the alleged slipshod, inefficient hands of government bureaucrats. The real fear of private insurers, pharmaceuticals and major medical practitioners is that they’ll have to treat millions of uninsured, unprofitable, largely unhealthy blacks and Hispanics.
The huge racial disparity in the number of uninsured has been a sticking point for every Democratic president since Harry Truman proposed the first national health care plan in the late 1940s. The number of blacks and Hispanics without a prayer of obtaining health care at any price has always been wildly disproportionate to that of whites – even poor whites. It has steadily gotten worse over the years.
The legions of black and Hispanic uninsured are far more likely than the one in four whites, who are uninsured to experience problems getting treatment at a hospital or clinic. This has devastating health and public policy consequences. A study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that they are far more likely than whites to suffer higher rates of catastrophic illness and disease, and are much less likely to obtain basic drugs, tests, preventive screenings and surgeries. They are more likely to recover slower from illness, and they die much younger.
Studies have found that when blacks and Hispanics do receive treatment, the care they receive is more likely to be substandard than that of whites. Reports indicate that even when blacks and Hispanics are enrolled in high quality health plans, the racial gap in the care and quality of medical treatment still remains low. Private insurers routinely cherry pick the healthiest and most financially secure patients in order to bloat profits and hold down costs. American medical providers spend twice as much per patient than providers in countries with universal health care, and they provide lower quality for the grossly inflated dollars. Patients pay more in higher insurance premiums, co-payments, fees and other hidden health costs. At the same time, government medical insurance programs shell out more than public insurers in other countries with universal health care.
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