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Unequal care 

Good health breaks down along racial, ethnic lines

Colorado's racial and ethnic minorities are more likely than whites to get life-threatening illnesses and die as a result, according to a new state health report.

The reason is that minorities have less access to medical, dental and mental care because their jobs tend either to provide no health insurance, or plans with co-pays that are too expensive to afford.

The health care gap is not defined just by race and ethnicity, notes Dr. Ned Calonge, the state's chief medical officer: "Your socioeconomic status can determine things like access and your ability to get care."

Yet health officials decided it was important to identify the differences between whites and minorities to help focus health campaigns in low-income communities.

"Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities," issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, documented numerous disparities in critical health categories, such as cancer and heart health.

For instance, diabetes rates among blacks and Hispanics are more than twice as high as those among whites.

Such health problems cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, the report concludes, and efforts to close the majority-minority gap would save money. For example, if diabetes incidence rates for blacks and Hispanics were lowered to the level of whites, Colorado taxpayers would reap $80 million in various savings to the health care system, the report estimates.

-- Michael de Yoanna

  • Good health breaks down along racial, ethnic lines

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