Health Center Patients by Race/Ethnicity, 2010

Reducing Health Disparities through Community Health Centers1
Health disparities—differences in the health, rate of disease and quality of care among racial and ethnic groups—cost the entire health system an extra $229.4 billion in direct medical expenditures between 2003 and 2006, according to a 2009 study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Minorities have higher rates of infant mortality, asthma, heart disease and diabetes, lower rates of health care coverage and access to care, and more avoidable medical costs compared with whites, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). A variety of complex factors cause disparities, making solutions difficult to find. Policymakers, nevertheless, continue to look for ways to reduce the disparities and their associated costs, while improving the health of their communities.

Community Health Centers (CHCs) are a promising model for reducing health disparities. In 2010, CHCs treated more than 19 million people—about 60 percent were racial and ethnic minorities. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has recognized CHCs as a model for screening and managing health conditions that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes. For example, up to 20 percent of low-income children receive asthma related care at CHCs.

Two examples of successful intervention programs follow.

  • Using a bilingual, bicultural program (Inner-City Asthma Intervention), the El Rio health center in Tucson, Arizona has reduced childhood asthma-related emergency room visits by low-income Latino children by 80 percent.
  • In South Carolina, two health centers have reduced the risk of heart disease in African American women by increasing their physical activity and improving their diets through a culturally sensitive counseling program called the Heart Healthy and Ethnically Relevant Lifestyle.

Sources: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, National Association of Community Health Centers, Inc., Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences Press, U.S. General Accounting Office.

This postcard was made possible by grant number UD3OA22893 from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HRSA.

1. In this postcard, “community health centers (CHCs)” is used to refer to organizations that receive grants under the Health Center Program as authorized under section 330 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended.


Health Center Patients by Race/Ethnicity, 2010

Pie chart of Health Center Patients by Race/Ethnicity, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percents rounded to equal 100%.
Source: National Association of Community Health Centers, Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA, DHHS, 2010 Uniform Data System.

 

The Cost of Health Disparities

According to a study between 2003-2006, $229.4 billion in direct medical care expenditures could have been saved if health disparities were eliminated.

Bar chart of Health Total Expenditures for Minorities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The estimated excess medical care costs due to health inequalities are shown as a percent of the total expenditures for racial/ethnic minorities, from 2005 to 2006.

Thomas A. LaVeist, et. al., "The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities in the United States," (The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: September 2009), 4-5.
All expenditures are standardized to 2008 dollars. Based on calculations using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 2003-2006. 

This postcard was made possible by grant number UD3OA22893 from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HRSA.