StateStats: The Human and Economic Costs of Health Disparities: March 2010

 A Snapshot of the Problem

Each year an estimated 25,000 people become infected with Hepatitis A, 43,000 with Hepatitis B, and 17,000 with Hepatitis C. Infections, however, are not equally distributed across racial groups.

  • In 2006, African American were 70 percent more likely to die from viral Hepatitis, than were non-Hispanic whites.

  • In 2007, American Indian/Alaska Natives were twice as likely to develop a case of Hepatitis C, as compared to whites.

  • In 2007, Asian Americans were 1.6 times more likely to contract Hepatitis A than whites.

  • Hispanics are 2.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with Hepatitis A than whites.


There are gaps in the health, access to care and quality of health care among different groups of Americans. American Indian women, for example, are almost twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than are white women. African Americans are one and a half times more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. And although life expectancy from 2000 to 2006 gradually increased for all populations, minority groups continue to have significantly shorter life expectancies when compared to whites.

There are many causes for health disparities, but some reasons include inadequate access to care, genetic variations, poor quality of care, specific health behaviors and social reasons such as availability of fresh food and safe places to exercise.

Eliminating these health disparities can save a lot of money. It’s been estimated that about 30 percent of direct medical care expenditures for African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are because of health disparities.

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