Viewing the Healthcare Crisis
Through an Honest Lens
When we started DiversityInc.com eight years ago, we also started a Web site dedicated to examining the differences in healthcare between people of color and white people in this country.
Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that we only could be successful if we focused on
one product, which has evolved into the magazine you are reading. Although we folded the
healthcare Web site, the subject of healthcare disparities never left our thoughts, and subsequent events
focused us more clearly on it.
During a panel on images of people of color
in the media that we produced at a
Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project conference
a year and a half ago, an audience member
commented that she was tired of seeing people
of color stereotyped as having certain medical
conditions, such as hypertension. She asserted
that problems likely were to be similar in similar
socioeconomic classes. It was an interesting
insight that stuck with us.
Dr. Johnnetta Cole, president of Bennett
College for Women and chair of the United Way
of America, added to our understanding by consistently stressing classism. If you combine the
effects of classism, stereotypes and the knowledge
that bigotry and racism have forced more people
of color into lower socioeconomic groups, you
have a very different look at healthcare disparities
than what you typically see in the mainstream
press. That is what you’ll read about in this issue.
Ironically, viewed through this set of lenses,
you can see how a focus on the true genesis of
healthcare disparities will help more white people
than any other group, because white people
in lower socioeconomic classes are a greater
There’s no doubt that the crisis in healthcare
for most Americans is reaching a critical point.
Most small businesses provide no healthcare
benefits. With slightly more than 50 employees,
DiversityInc qualifies as a small business; however,
we pay for 50 percent of our employees’ health-care. The Preferred Provider Organization insurance for a family now is more than $1,300 per
month at our company. We have seen several
years of double-digit increases. There is no way
that young, college-educated professionals can
afford this on their own—much less unskilled labor.
The solutions put forth by the government are
inadequate and simply not workable. For example,
we see firsthand that self-administered solutions
such as flexible-spending accounts (FSAs) are
ineffective. Although we offer our employees an
FSA, we have to spend a great deal of time and
effort to get them to sign up for it and almost all
of our employees are college-educated professionals
with an average age of almost 40. Frankly, most
people find the process frustrating, confusing
and not worth the time—despite the incredible
Unfortunately, clarity on class and healthcare
doesn’t immediately produce clarity on solutions.
You may find this issue of DiversityInc to be
frustrating. We can shed new light on the nature of
our national crisis in healthcare but have no earthshaking new solutions. Considering that healthcare
is now more than 15 percent of our gross domestic
product, we feel there only is one solution and that
is a national one, driven by our federal government.
Tragically, we don’t see the leadership necessary to
have hope for a solution in the near future.
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