© 2024 88.9 KETR
Public Radio for Northeast Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Racial disparities in health care persist in Texas, new study finds

A receptionist looks over paperwork in a waiting area Friday, July 7, 2023, at LBU Community Clinic.
Yfat Yossifor
A receptionist looks over paperwork in a waiting area Friday, July 7, 2023, at LBU Community Clinic.

According to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund, Texas has more severe racial and ethnic health disparities than other states in the Southwest.

Black and Hispanic Texans are more likely to be uninsured, die from avoidable causes and not have access to health care than other racial groups.

Sara Collins, the senior scholar of health care coverage and access with the Commonwealth Fund, said one reason for the disparities is a lack of health insurance.

“Giving everybody access to health insurance coverage is really the first step in addressing a lot of the issues that we're seeing across the country,” she said.

On average, Collins said states that have expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income adults had better outcomes and narrower disparities than states that haven’t. Texas is one of 10 states that has yet to expand Medicaid.

“Cost is the big barrier to getting health care,” she said. “So, once you have that financial ability to access the health care system, that falls away.”

Another reason for the disparities between groups is racism and discrimination in the health care system. Patients of color experience worse care for issues like heart disease, pregnancy complications, and pain management, all linked to preventable conditions that lead to premature death.

“There are deep seated issues in the health care system that do stem from racism and unequal access to good quality care,” Collins said. “It will take health system responsiveness and prioritization to address those kinds of issues that are that are manifesting in such wide disparities in health outcomes, preventable mortality in particular.”

The report recommends lawmakers and policymakers address these disparities through better access to health insurance, diversifying the health care workforce, and investing in social services that help people manage their health over time.

Elena Rivera is KERA’s health reporter. Got a tip? Email Elena at erivera@kera.org 

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Copyright 2024 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Elena Rivera