A Separate and Unequal System

Access to quality health care has been hindered more often for America’s racial and ethnic minorities than for whites, according to a 2008 report “Lifeline to Health Equity.” People of color make up about 30 percent of the U.S. population, but more than 50 percent of the nation’s 47 million uninsured. “It’s a vicious cycle,” Praxis Project director Makani Themba-Nixon told Sojourners. “It starts with slavery and conquest. Add the impact of discrimination, take away public policy that increases equitable access to good jobs, housing, and education, and you’ve got a recipe for the Jim Crow health system we have today: separate and very unequal.”

  • 18,000 people in the United States die prematurely each year because they lack health insurance.

  • 33 percent of all uninsured children in the U.S. are Latino.

  • The diabetes rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2005 was two times that of the white adult average.

  • 35 percent of Asian-American adults age 65 and older re­ceived a pneumonia vaccine in 2004, compared to 59 percent of whites in the same age range.

  • African-American women had a 36 percent higher death rate from breast cancer in 2004 than white women.

Source: “Lifeline to Health Equity: Policies For Real Health Care Reform,” National Conference of Black Mayors and Service Employees International Union, 2008.

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