According to the U.S Census Bureau (2017), non-Hispanic African-Americans comprise more than 14% of the total population of the United States. The estimated size of this ethnic minority is over 42 million people, making it one of the largest population groups in the country. At the same time, the African-American population is one of the most underrepresented populations in the country’s healthcare system due to various socioeconomic factors that affect their individual and group capabilities to receive high-quality healthcare. African-American citizens have some of the highest mortality rates in the country due to the shortcomings of the existing healthcare system. The purpose of this paper is to identify the current health status of African-Americans as a minority group, identify factors that improve or mitigate the promotion of healthcare for them, and suggest potential approaches that could address the unique needs of the group at large.
Current Health Status of African-American Population
According to the CDC (2017), the number of African-American persons aged over 20 in poor health is over 13.1%. Smoking is prevalent among the male population with 21.6% of adult males smoking. Female smokers are at 14.1%. Over 11% of African-Americans do not have healthcare coverage, which causes significant issues and contributes to the overall mortality rates (CDC, 2017). Prevalent causes of death among African-Americans include cancer, stroke, and heart diseases, all of which are closely related to the ongoing obesity problem. Obesity is prevalent in 38% of males and 57% of females. Another related disease, hypertension, is found in 41% of males and 44% of the female population. Over 315.000 African-Americans die per year, with 755 deaths per every 100.000 people (CDC, 2017). Infant mortality for an African-American minority group is over 12 children per 100,000 newborns (CDC, 2017). Overall, African-Americans have lower health status than Hispanics, Non-Hispanic Whites, and other population groups due to lower healthcare coverage, higher prevalence of diseases, and child mortality rates.
Health Promotion for African-Americans
As it stands, the ability to receive quality healthcare for African-Americans is closely related to the issues of education, employment, and poverty. Healthcare is expensive in America, as out-of-pocket payments for every individual service are detrimental to peoples’ budgets, medicine is expensive, and insurance may take out up to 25% of a family budget (CDC, 2017). In these conditions, many African-Americans opted out of quality healthcare, preferring self-treatment, and dubious medical practices to professional help, which contributed to the overall decline in their health status. After the introduction of Obamacare and various state-funded programs to promote healthcare to poor minorities, the situation started to shift. Many African-Americans benefited from government relief, which enabled them to afford basic and advanced healthcare packages (CDC, 2017). However, the percentage of uninsured African-Americans remained higher than that of the White non-Hispanic population because of overall differences in wealth as well as information availability. Many African-Americans still are unaware of which healthcare benefits they may receive from the government.
Disparities Experienced by African-Americans
According to Families USA (2014), African-Americans experience a plethora of disparities when compared to the ethnic majority (Non-Hispanic Whites) and other minority groups. The reasons for these disparities are historical and socioeconomic, as the black population has a history of healthcare neglect and abuse, which resulted in poor health, generational poverty, and a lack of trust in the existing healthcare system. As it stands, an average African-American is 2 times more likely to die from asthma, 40% more likely to develop breast cancer, 2 times more likely to die of cervical or prostate cancer, 9 times more likely to contract HIV, 2.5 more likely to die during childbirth, and 50% more likely to suffer from diabetes or have a stroke (Families USA, 2014). Overall, it can be concluded that an African-American’s health situation is two times worse than that of the national average.
Potential Avenues for Healthcare Promotion
As it is possible to see from the list of diseases that average African-Americans are exposed to, the majority of illnesses they contract or develop during their lives, such as HIV, obesity (and related healthcare complications such as hypertension, diabetes, etc.) and smoking are almost entirely preventable. As such, healthcare promotion for African-Americans must have a focus on primary and tertiary care, which would enable spotting unhealthy habits and first signs of diseases early and enable the populations to help themselves by conducting a healthier way of life (Eldredge et al., 2016). At the same time, tertiary patient education would help decrease hospitalization rates, which causes additional financial problems for families and hospitals alike. Preventing diseases is much easier than treating them. This is especially true for HIV patients and diabetics. Also, due to comparatively low costs of preventive actions versus reactive treatments, healthcare promotion campaigns have the potential of reaching more beneficiaries and improving national health as a whole (Eldredge et al., 2016). Thus, an emphasis on primary and tertiary care is the ultimate solution for African-American populations.
The issue of healthcare disparity and inequality remains one of the most important problems in American society. Dedicating additional resources to promote healthcare among African-Americans would go a long way into fixing various injustices this minority group has suffered in the past years and improve the nation’s overall healthcare status.
CDC. (2017). Health of black or African-American non-Hispanic population. Web.
Eldredge, L. K. B., Markham, C. M., Ruiter, R. A. C., Fernandez, M. E., Kok, G., &
Parcel, G. S. (2016). Planning health promotion programs: An intervention mapping approach(4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Wiley.
Families USA. (2014). African-American health disparities compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Web.
United States Census Bureau. (2017). Quickfacts. Web.