Diabetes Disparities

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the US but the diabetes disparities that exist for various racial and ethnic groups are very significant. Although the disease can lead to serious complications and premature deaths, steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of such occurrences. Unfortunately, many of the populations most affected by diabetes also represent a disproportionate share of the poor and uninsured. As a result, they face tremendous disparity in the quality of care available to them in the treatment of their diabetes.

Disparities in healthcare are often the result of a combination of social and economic factors, insufficient health resources and poor disease management. Individual in specific racial and ethnic groups experience the greatest prevalence and widest disparity in outcomes for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects African-Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and Pacific Islanders. These groups also make up a disproportionate share of the poor and uninsured.

Here are a few instances of the disparities that exist for various racial and ethnic groups:

African Americans

  • African Americans born in the year 2000 face a 2 in 5 risk for diabetes
  • Compared to whites, African Americans are more than twice as likely to have diabetes
  • From 1980 through 2005, diagnosed diabetes doubled among black males and increased 69% among black females

Hispanics/Latinos

  • Hispanics/Latinos born in the year 2000 face a 2 in 5 risk for diabetes
  • Compared to whites, Hispanics/Latinos are more than twice as likely to have diabetes
  • From 1997 through 2005, diagnosed diabetes increased 16% among Hispanics/Latinos males and increased 21% among Hispanics/Latinos females

American Indians

  • American Indians aged 10-19 have the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes

Health Care Coverage

When it comes to health care coverage, lack of access to care is a major issue. Poverty is a major factor in access to health care. Families earning less than $10,000 per year make up the greatest % of the uninsured at 35.7% while those who earn more than $75,000 per year make up 7.1% of the uninsured. . Of the US population, those with diabetes represent

  • 5.9 % of those with private insurance
  • 13% of those with government insurance
  • 5.4% of those with no insurance

In addition, members of racial and ethnic groups make up a disproportionate share of the uninsured population

  • 22.8% of African Americans are uninsured
  • 35.7% of Hispanics are uninsured
  • 12.6% of non-Hispanic whites are uninsured

Compared to insured adults, uninsured adults with diabetes are less likely to receive the proper standard of care, including regular glucose monitoring and preventative check-ups for their feet and eyes. This leads to a greater risk for hospitalization and an increased risk of chronic disease and disability.

Many groups and agencies have set goals and timelines for reducing diabetes complications and eliminating the diabetes disparities among different groups however, we are a long way from achieving this goal.

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