June 29, 2021
The pandemic has profoundly affected each and every one of us, but data shows that ethnic and racial minority groups have experienced the virus’s devastating impacts at a disproportional rate.
While concerning, health disparities are not unique to COVID-19. Ethnic and racial minority groups face increased risks for many other chronic health conditions. Consider this:
• African Americans ages 18-49 are two times more likely to die from heart disease than their white counterparts, and African Americans ages 35-64 years are 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure. African Americans are also disproportionately affected by asthma, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.
• Latinos are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes and to die from it. Asthma, heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer are also significant health concerns among the Latino community.
• American Indians and Alaska Natives are almost three times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes . American Indian and Alaska Natives also have much higher rates of getting several cancers, including lung, colorectal, liver, stomach, and kidney cancers, compared to non-Hispanic white people in the United States.
While social determinants of health contribute to these inequities, healthy behaviors are also key to fighting minority health disparities.
For National Minority Health Month back in April, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) worked to raise awareness about the health disparities that affect minority communities and highlight simple and effective ways to protect your health.
While there are things beyond our immediate control that may influence health, there are things within your control that you can do to stay healthy.
As the region’s largest health insurance organization, Independence is committed to addressing health disparities and the social determinants of health that impact minority communities. Here are some things Independence is doing across the community to fight health disparities:
• Keystone Connection to Wellness. Independence is collaborating with Project HOME to address significant health disparities in life expectancy and infant mortality experienced by North Philadelphia residents.
• Know Your Mind. Independence launched a new mental health public awareness campaign to educate the community about symptoms of depression and anxiety, and how to help themselves and others during these emotionally challenging times. The campaign includes a special focus on the millennial generation (ages 25-40), one-third of whom, have a behavioral health condition.
• Our Community. Our Health. Independence partnered with The Philadelphia Tribune to launch a public health awareness campaign to combat the disproportionate rates of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease in the African American community. The campaign empowered people to improve their health or the health of someone they love, offering access to health screenings, nutrition services, and healthy lifestyle counseling.
• The Well City Challenge. The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Independence launched the Well City Challenge to address Philadelphia’s millennial health and mental health challenges.
Making healthy choices can have a big impact on your health. To encourage you on your journey, Independence offers its members incentives to help them make their health a top priority. If you’re an Independence member, you may be eligible to participate in the Healthy Lifestyles℠ reimbursement program. Through the program, you can earn up to $150 for joining an eligible gym and working out regularly, get up to $150 back when you participate in an approved weight management program, and get up to $150 when you complete an approved program to help you quit using tobacco. To learn more, visit Independence’s Reimbursements site.
Ready to change your diet? If you’re an Independence member, you may be covered for six free annual visits with a registered dietitian. Check to see if your health plan covers nutrition counseling. To find a participating registered dietitian, primary care provider, or another network provider, Independence members can search the Provider Finder Tool.
This article was originally published on IBX Insights.
Mother. Wife. TV junkie. Shopaholic. That’s me in a nutshell – outside of work. As a copywriter at Independence, I enjoy learning about the health and wellness topics that I write about and hope to incorporate more healthy habits into my daily life to give me the energy to keep up with my baby girl.