Why are Minorities at Higher Risk for Diabetes?

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 86 million American adults are estimated to have prediabetes. With numbers like this, you probably know someone dealing with this epidemic.

Compared to Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and other ethnic minority groups are more likely to have type 2 diabetes. In 2010, the number of African American adults with diabetes was nearly double the number of white adults with the disease.

Research has shown us that although people have different genetics, their differences are not significant enough to be the cause of an increased risk of diabetes. But in health care, the term “disparities” refers to the differential treatments, processes and outcomes of patients on the basis of race or ethnicity, and sometimes on the basis of gender or other patient characteristics. Although people in health care, communities and the government are working together to fight disparities, it’s currently an issue that puts minorities at a higher risk for diabetes as well as other diseases.

Experts believe that there are three main factors contributing to health disparities among minority populations. These are :

  • Community
  • Access issues
  • Quality of available health care

How is BCBSIL Making a Difference?
Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), the parent company for 5 BCBS plans, is working with community organizations to help underserved populations. For example, in Illinois, BCBSIL helped fund full-time health educators committed to helping people in a largely African American and Latino community receive quality health care. The Lawndale Diabetes project has helped lower diabetes rates in the community and more than 50% of the diabetics in that community improved their blood sugar levels.

BCBSOK and the Oklahoma Caring Foundation work in partnership with Choctaw Nation Health Services to operate a Caring Van project that serves American Indian populations by sponsoring clinics for children in schools and Head Start programs. All five BCBS plans under HCSC are part of Be Covered, a grassroots campaign that helps the uninsured understand the new health care options available to them under the Affordable Care Act. We also frequently partner with cultural organizations to reach historically underserved populations with these educational campaigns. Additionally to reach Asian American communities in Houston, Texas, Be Covered Texas partnered with the Bangladesh Association and the Asian American Health Coalition HOPE Clinic.

As a company, we will continue to address the diabetes epidemic and the related disparities by focusing on our communities, reducing access issues to healthcare for all consumers, and enhancing the quality of healthcare available for all. As more people get insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the number of our members-- including minority members-- will grow.


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