New York’s health-care system is paying a staggering $24 billion a year to help cover high hospital and emergency costs for “preventable” illnesses suffered by minority patients, says the New York Post.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah a shortage of doctors and a lack of preventive care in minority neighborhoods. Instead of being able to see a doctor for regular check-ups, many New Yorkers suffer from untreated asthma, diabetes, obesity, HIV, depression, high blood pressure and other heart-related ailments, says the Post.
“Excess rates of preventable illnesses for blacks and Hispanics alone cost New York state $24 billion a year,” Shah said during a presentation to his department’s minority health council, adding that the situation was “tragic.”
Other issues that exacerbate the problem in minority neighborhoods are poor nutrition, fewer recreational options, lack of exercise and higher crime rates, he said.
The Health Department’s annual report highlighting medical disparities found that blacks have a 62 percent higher diabetes mortality rate than Hispanics, twice the rate of whites and three times that of Asians; black and Hispanic asthma mortality rates are four times higher than those of whites and 13 times higher than Asians; and the infant mortality rate for black babies is 10.9 per 1,000, more than double the 4.2 rate for whites and 4.5 rate for Hispanics.
According to the Post, providing these at-risk minority and immigrant communities with better medical care by neighborhood doctors would save the state billions of dollars, health officials said.