People in healthcare knew that health inequity was a thing, but now we’re all aware. And we also know how much it costs the U.S. economy.
In May, the National Institutes of Health announced the publication of a groundbreaking new study that provides national and state-level estimates of the economic burden of health disparities by race and ethnicity and educational levels.
According to NIH, people in some racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of poor health and disease for a range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, heart disease, cancer and preterm birth, when compared to their White counterparts.
The study by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (part of the NIH), concludes that in 2018 these types of racial and ethnic health disparities cost the U.S. economy $451 billion, a 41% increase from the previous estimate of $320 billion in 2014. It also finds that the total burden of education-related health disparities for persons with less than a college degree in 2018 reached $978 billion, about two times greater than the annual growth rate of the U.S. economy in 2018.
Of course, health inequity is not a new problem, but it’s much more visible thanks to the pandemic. Our cover story this month takes a look at the issue and how retail pharmacy is trying to help solve it.
“In the wake of the pandemic, mental health services, patient education, medication adherence and pharmacy access have emerged as key areas of focus for retail pharmacies,” our reporter writes. “They are increasingly partnering with community organizations to address these issues and taking steps to promote systemic changes that address disparities in healthcare.”
Retail pharmacy is doing its part, but as we found out, the problem is so large that it will take the resources of all stakeholders: “No one person, organization or entity can advance health equity alone,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, VP and chief health equity officer, CVS Health. “The private sector, employers, government, hospitals, academic organizations—everyone has a role to play.”