Posted 11/8/11 on The Altarum Institute Health Policy Forum
In any other industry, minority and elderly discrimination would be front-page news. A recent study confirms elderly and minority customers get higher-cost hospital care than other more affluent white customers and are more often exposed to harmful, even deadly outcomes (1, 2). Fact: care for these patients will cost significantly more, yet their health outcomes and personal safety will be compromised. But in health care, it is not news.
This is the nature of health care disparity. But it reveals an even more troubling issue we rarely discuss: information, choice, and control. Not only do these patients receive substandard, over-priced care (1), they likely don’t even know it! The system limits information, limits choice, and offers patients little control over their options. In this and a subsequent blog, we will explore how lack of choice and control institutionalize the very disparities we aim to eliminate.