The studies, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, show per-person health care spending increased with age for every racial and ethnic group, but White individuals spent the most per-person than any other group.
American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander individuals made up 6% of the population and accounted for an estimated 3% of health care spending, and American Indian and Alaska Native individuals made up 1% of the population, and received 1% of health care spending.
White people spent an estimated $8,941 per person on health care in 2016, the team found. This is around double of the estimated per-person spending of both Hispanic and Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander individuals.
“White individuals received an estimated 15% more spending on ambulatory (outpatient) care than the all-population mean,” the team wrote. Black people received 26% less spending than the all-population mean on ambulatory care but received 19% more on inpatient and 12% more on emergency department care, they added. “Hispanic individuals received an estimated 33% less spending per person on ambulatory care than the all-population mean.”
These numbers “suggest that Black individuals may lack access to the ambulatory care that can play a critical role in prevention,” the IHME team wrote.
“The US is consistently the wealthiest country in the world with subpar levels of coverage for a core set of health services; these findings provide additional evidence of the need to reduce disparities,” they concluded.
“Research has shown that Black, Latino/Hispanic, and American Indian individuals have worse self-rated health. The current study found that between 1999 and 2018, there had been no significant decrease in the percentage of people reporting poor or fair health across any racial and ethnic subgroup, and Black individuals consistently had the highest rates,” they added.
“Structural factors in US society, including systemic racism and barriers associated with citizenship status, can contribute to such inequities.”
Dr. George Mensah, senior adviser with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, who is unaffiliated with the research, said physicians can play a role in expanding access.
“One of the lessons we’ve learned is we need to stop thinking of always finding ways to tell patients, ‘go to the doctor,’ tell patients ‘go to the clinic,'” Mensah told reporters.
“Let’s find strategies that take the care to the community, to the patients.”
Alexander Ortega, a public health researcher at Drexel University, and Dylan Roby, a health policy analyst with the University of Maryland School of Public Health, say the studies show racism still exists in health care.