Each year since 1983, the United States celebrates the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday in January. As we honor his life and achievements, it’s a good reminder of the importance of addressing health and healthcare disparities.
During a press conference before his speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966, Dr. King said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.” Although progress has been made to reduce health disparities since his powerful statement, inequalities continue to persist today.
This week the American Cancer Society (ACS) released its annual report on cancer cases and deaths, that also highlights a number of disturbing disparities. The ACS reports that the incidence rate of prostate cancer is 70% higher among Black men than White men. Prostate cancer mortality is 2 to 4 times higher in Black men than other ethnic groups. Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than White women and Black women have the highest death rates from uterine cancer.
Disparities are also a significant driver of unnecessary healthcare spending. A recent study by Deloitte estimates that healthcare inequalities result in $320 billion in annual health care spending. They report that these costs could increase to $1 trillion or more by 2040 if the inequalities continue.
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and Medicaid expansion play a pivotal role in reducing healthcare disparities. But more work is needed to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare.
This Weekend Reading series begins with If I Can Dream with articles on parts of Dr. King’s life and legacy that are not always in the spotlight. Next check out News Beat with articles on current Obamacare enrollment, the ACS study results, private equity firms’ latest purchases and more! In What’s Going On, explore articles on healthcare disparities – and download an excellent free eBook on the topic! Finally, do not miss Just Asking and my personal favorite – Can Scientists Save the World’s Tiniest Rabbit?
I hope you enjoy the following:
1. If I Can Dream
- Why MLK Day Is a Big Deal in Hiroshima. Martin Luther King Jr. was also outspoken against nuclear weapons. (Atlas Obscura)
- Remembering A Civil Rights Swim-In: ‘It Was A Milestone’ (NPR)
- It’s true, Martin Luther King Jr. paid the hospital bill when actress Julia Roberts was born (The Washington Post)
2. News Beat
- More people than ever buy insurance on Healthcare.gov (NPR)
- Joint Commission makes health equity a national safety goal (Becker’s Hospital Review)
- U.S. Cancer Deaths Decline Overall, But Prostate Cancers Make Rebound (HealthDay)
- More Orthopedic Physicians Sell Out to Private Equity Firms, Raising Alarms About Costs and Quality (Kaiser Health News)
3. What’s Going On?
- Latest ACS Cancer Statistics Report Highlights Alarming Trends, Disparities in Prostate Cancer (American Journal of Managed Care)
- Systemic And Structural Racism: Definitions, Examples, Health Damages, And Approaches To Dismantling (Health Affairs)
- Racist Doctors and Organ Thieves: Why So Many Black People Distrust the Health Care System (Politico)
- Necessary Conversations: Understanding Racism as a Barrier to Achieving Health Equity (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Free eBook) at:
4. Just Asking
- Should the U.S. Ban Gas Stoves? While the White House opposes an all-out ban, a federal safety agency is studying the health and environmental hazards of the kitchen appliances (Smithsonian Magazine)
- Should you add milk to tea, or tea to milk? (McGill University)
- Can Scientists Save the World’s Tiniest Rabbit? (Smithsonian Magazine)
Enjoy your weekend!
Suzanne Daniels, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 1416
Birmingham, MI 48012
Office: (248) 792-2187
Email: [email protected]