Establishing Universal Health Insurance System Would Address Racial Health Disparities

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Universal Health Insurance

A "major reason" for racial health disparities in the U.S. is that thecountry lacks universal health care, George Halvorson, chair and CEO ofthe Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece. "Universal coverage should be the next major civil rights issue for this country to face," he adds.

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Minoritiesmake up more than 50% of uninsured residents nationwide, Halvorsonwrites, adding, "That fact alone should make the need to cover everyonein America a pure ethical imperative." He says, "This issue is notabout economics -- it is about equality."

According toHalvorson, chronic conditions, including diabetes, congestive heartfailure and asthma, "drive 75% of our health care costs." He notes thatdata indicate "our minority populations have highly disproportionatelevels of" these conditions. Universal health care would provide "anexcellent opportunity to improve care," Halvorson writes.

Halvorsonadds, "It's time to do the right thing" and "give all Americans,regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level, health care coverage --in ways that will both finance care and improve it" (Halvorson, Sacramento Bee, 9/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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