Chart from 2017 Kentucky Minority Health Status Report
The coronavirus is having a heavier effect on African Americans, putting new attention on the disparities in their health and the socioeconomic factors that influence health.
During a health-department online roundtable Thursday, “Devine Carama, a hip-hop artist and community activist, said higher poverty rates in the black population mean less access to health care and worse health outcomes,” Musgrave reports. “Carama said when he was younger and poorer going to the doctor was a luxury he couldn’t afford.”
Health inequalities between whites and blacks in Kentucky have existed since such things were first measured. “Black Kentuckians are more likely to die of asthma, have higher mortality rates for certain cancers and have higher rates of diabetes than whites,” Musgrave notes, citing the health-equality office in the state Department for Public Health.
- Blacks are more likely to die from asthma than any other race.
- The death rate for diabetes is higher among blacks than whites.
- Blacks have a higher death rate for diseases or conditions that affect blood flow to the brain.
- Blacks have a significantly higher death rate than whites for prostate, breast and colorectal cancer.
Musgrave notes, “Research has shown a direct correlation between health outcomes and income and poverty, the report noted. Black Kentuckians are much poorer than white Kentuckians. . . . Overall, the poverty rate for black Kentuckians is 31.4%, almost double that of whites in Kentucky at 17.1%.”
Kentucky expanded Medicaid in 2014 to include people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold, which has reduced the share of uninsured Kentuckians to about 5 percent. But the Minority Health Status Report showed that nearly 9% of black Kentuckians ages 18-64 were uninsured in 2016. Hispanics in Kentucky even less insured; nearly 30% lack health insurance.