Statistics show that non-white Americans were more affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than white Americans. Much of this racial inequality had to do with the racial disparities in our nation’s healthcare system.
For instance, more white Americans have health insurance coverage than non-white Americans. Some people may blame this on lower-income communities consisting of mostly non-white Americans. However, studies have shown that low-income white communities still suffered fewer deaths from COVID-19 compared to low-income non-white communities. So, money and income are not the real issues here.
The only logical explanation is structural racism and how it plays a role in the healthcare disparities in our country, particularly amongst the African American community. This systematic inequality has been going on in the American healthcare system for many decades. The reason can be attributed to America’s history of environmental degradation, racial segregation, and income inequality.
If these problems are ever going to be turned around, some significant changes will need to happen to our nation’s healthcare system. One significant change could be to adopt a value-based health care model for the entire country. A value-based health care model would allow patients to receive better preventative care and longer sessions with their doctors, regardless of the patients’ race.
A value-based care model does a much better job addressing patients’ cultural and social needs in relation to their healthcare. Imagine if patients had the freedom to call the doctor of their choice and receive care that accommodated their behaviors, values, and beliefs. That can happen under the value-based care model.
How a Value-Based Care System is More Effective
The United States healthcare system currently operates under the fee-for-service model. This model gives doctors incentives to prescribe medications and administer tests and procedures to patients. It doesn’t even matter if these treatments help the patient or not. The doctors make money either way.
Does that sound like a good system? Of course, not.
The value-based care system is better because it pays doctors for their performance in treating patients. That way, doctors have an incentive to cure patients quickly rather than giving them endless amounts of drugs and treatments which have little to no effect.
The fee-for-service model does a terrible job of treating patients suffering from chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Non-white Americans suffer from chronic conditions at much higher rates than white Americans. They are also more likely to contract COVID-19 while suffering from a chronic condition, which creates an even worse health risk.
A primary care doctor under the fee-for-service model typically treats at least 2,500 patients on average annually. On the other hand, a primary care doctor practicing under the value-based care model treats no more than 400 patients annually. The value-based model has a smaller number due to patients’ longer sessions with their doctors. Instead of only focusing on the symptoms, the doctors are actually interested in treating the cause of the problem. After all, their performance is what earns them money under this model.
A National Investment in the Value-Based Care Model
The full-risk values-based care model enables healthcare providers to treat all patients the same, regardless of their race or income. In fact, the total financial responsibility of a patient’s healthcare costs falls on the healthcare providers rather than on the patients themselves. That is excellent news for patients living on a fixed income like Social Security.
Did you know the average American pays over $10,000 annually for their healthcare? Senior patients pay the most because they typically have one or more chronic conditions which require regular treatment. Perhaps if the government expands the Medicare Advantage program, it could help more people suffering from racial health disparities.
First, the country would need to make a national investment in the value-based care model to see a fundamental change in addressing racial health disparities. For now, patients can take advantage of the value-based care model by finding medical facilities that choose to use it. Primary Medical Care Center is one example.
Numerous analysts have found that Medicare beneficiaries are 33% less likely to visit the emergency room than non-Medicare beneficiaries. Furthermore, Primary Medical Care Center patients have required 25% fewer days of in-patient care than Medicare beneficiaries. The value-based care model has mostly to do with that statistic.
These percentages all reflect people with existing health problems. Now, think about the amount of preventative care that would be available to younger people if the value-based model was nationalized. By the time those younger people become senior citizens, they will likely have fewer health problems than the generations before them.
A big reason why the COVID-19 pandemic killed so many Americans was due to their existing poor health. Nearly three-fourths of Americans who died from COVID-19 had also suffered from obesity. Hispanic Americans and African Americans were also killed at a higher rate due to the poor healthcare in their communities.
A value-based care system would transform the national healthcare system and make it work the same for everybody. It won’t matter if a patient is young, old, black, white, Hispanic, rich, or poor. People would receive equal treatment from doctors who have an incentive to cure their problems instead of treating the symptoms of their problems. That is a healthcare model worth the investment.