It is an unfortunate but well-established fact that communities of color are disproportionally affected by certain chronic diseases. This also means that any incidences of patient discrimination around disease types or treatments results in disproportionate discrimination toward patients of color.
For example, African-Americans are more at risk for kidney failure (end-stage renal disease, or ESRD) than any other race or ethnic group. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, at least 1 in 3 kidney failure patients living in the United States is African-American – or nearly 200,000 people. In other words, while African-Americans only make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they comprise more than 30 percent of the people in America with kidney failure.
Similarly, African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to de diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 13.2 percent of African-American adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. This compares to 12.8 percent for Hispanic adults, and 7.3 percent for non-Hispanic white adults.
The fact that African-Americans and other people of color are more likely to be diagnosed with these difficult chronic diseases also means that they are proportionally more likely to suffer harm from patient discrimination.
Sadly, this is not just theoretical. We are seeing increasing incidences of patient discrimination and patient harm when it comes to treatment and insurance coverage. For example, we have highlighted specific cases of insurance companies in Oregon, Washington and Idaho who have denied kidney dialysis coverage, pushed dialysis providers out of network and limited patients’ use of third-party premium assistance.
We of course don’t suggest that insurance companies or others are sitting around plotting to discriminate against communities of color. Yet it is absolutely clear that efforts to limit access and treatment for certain chronic diseases have, and will, disproportionally harm those patients of color.
And that is not acceptable.
That is why the Chronic Disease Coalition was formed. We are here to protect patients’ rights by fighting to end patient discrimination. Help us to win these fights! Please join us today.