Currently in the United States, racial minorities including African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans trail other ethnic and racial groups when it comes to access to quality healthcare. Recently, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released the latest National Healthcare Disparities Report. The congressionally mandated disparities and quality reports are produced annually and based on over 40 different national sources that collect data.
The most recent report found that from 2002 to 2008, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives experienced worse access to healthcare than Whites on more than 60 percent of the access measures. However, African Americans only experienced worse access to healthcare on more than 30 percent of the access measures. In addition, Asian Americans experienced worse access to healthcare than non-Hispanic Whites on only 17 percent of the access measures.
Minority groups in particular, have higher numbers of individuals without insurance coverage, without a regular source of care other than emergency room access, who lack financial resources for healthcare, and experience legal, structural, and linguistic barriers to healthcare. Additionally, minority groups typically suffer from diseases that could have been detected or decreased through preventive care such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and much more.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama is essentially addressing the health disparities issue amongst minorities. Under the ACA, racial minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics, will gain access to preventive care and other services aimed at reducing the current healthcare disparities amongst minorities. The Obama Administration recently invited groups of black journalists and publishers to the White House for healthcare briefings regarding healthcare disparities amongst minorities and the improvements the ACA will bring to minority communities.
During election season, President Obama is toting the Affordable Care Act as his signature policy achievement. For example, at the National Urban League Conference this past summer, President Obama highlighted the key provisions of the law including the fact that children will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26, there will be an end to discrimination against people who have pre-existing medical conditions, and senior citizens will be able to get cheaper prescription drugs. Most importantly, over 30 million Americans without health insurance will be eligible for healthcare through private and government assisted programs.