Health of Women of Color Boosts U.S. Economy

Health status is too often ignored as a driver of economic prosperity. Through Obamacare, their well-being stands to improve, and so does their prosperity.

Farah Ahmad is a policy analyst for Progress 2050, an initiative at the Center for American Progress looking at issues relevant to a nation that will have no ethnic majority by 2050.
National Journal
Farah Ahmad
Dec. 4, 2013, midnight

As the Af­ford­able Care Act is be­ing im­ple­men­ted across the na­tion, the needs of wo­men of col­or must be taken in­to con­sid­er­a­tion. Today, wo­men of col­or com­prise 36.3 per­cent of our na­tion’s fe­male pop­u­la­tion, and will make up 53 per­cent of the fe­male pop­u­la­tion by 2050. As wo­men of col­or be­come a great­er share of the pop­u­la­tion, they ne­ces­sar­ily be­come a great­er share of the fu­ture work­force. As such, the health status of wo­men of col­or mat­ters a great deal to our eco­nomy — but they face a large num­ber of dis­pro­por­tion­ate health out­comes.

As ex­plored in “The State of Wo­men of Col­or,” a re­port I pro­duced with Sarah Iver­son for the Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress, wo­men of col­or suf­fer more from dia­betes, obesity, heart dis­ease, hy­per­ten­sion, and cer­tain forms of can­cer. Ad­di­tion­ally, wo­men of col­or are over­ex­posed to poor en­vir­on­ment­al factors like pol­lu­tion and are of­ten em­ployed in sec­tors with high risk of ex­pos­ure to harm­ful tox­ins like those found in nail salons. They are dis­pro­por­tion­ately rep­res­en­ted in low-wage jobs, which of­ten do not have em­ploy­er-sponsored health in­sur­ance.

In fact, wo­men of col­or ac­count for 53.2 per­cent of un­in­sured wo­men. This lack of in­sur­ance is one reas­on wo­men of col­or have high­er rates of sexu­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions and un­in­ten­ded preg­nan­cies — Lat­ina wo­men and Afric­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men ex­per­i­ence un­in­ten­ded preg­nan­cies at double and triple the rate of white wo­men.

For­tu­nately, some im­prove­ments for wo­men of col­or will be real­ized soon through the ACA, col­lo­qui­ally known as Obama­care, which awaits its full im­ple­ment­a­tion on Jan. 1. Obama­care has the po­ten­tial to re­duce health dis­par­it­ies among wo­men of col­or through pro­vi­sions that make in­sur­ance af­ford­able, ex­pand Medi­caid, end gender rat­ing by in­sur­ance com­pan­ies, provide free fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices, and of­fer cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate care, among oth­ers.

In fact, wo­men of col­or have already be­nefited from Obama­care pro­vi­sions already im­ple­men­ted, such as the no-cost pre­vent­ive health pro­vi­sion. Today, an es­tim­ated 5.1 mil­lion Afric­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men, 4.9 mil­lion Lat­i­nas, and 2.5 mil­lion Asi­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men with private health in­sur­ance are re­ceiv­ing ex­pan­ded pre­vent­ive-ser­vice cov­er­age un­der the ACA. And more than 8.5 mil­lion wo­men of col­or will gain the im­port­ant abil­ity to ac­cess af­ford­able health in­sur­ance through the ACA mar­ket­place, in­clud­ing 4.6 mil­lion Lat­i­nas, 970,000 Asi­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men, and 3 mil­lion Afric­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men. Through Obama­care, the health of wo­men of col­or stands to im­prove, and so does their prosper­ity.

Health status is too of­ten ig­nored as a driver of eco­nom­ic prosper­ity. But ac­cess to health in­sur­ance and health ser­vices im­proves health out­comes and has a sig­ni­fic­ant im­pact on one’s abil­ity to main­tain a job or get an edu­ca­tion. As such, the health of our work­force con­trib­utes to eco­nom­ic growth. As ex­plored in our re­port, the United States must in­vest in its chan­ging pop­u­la­tion by ad­dress­ing the gaps wo­men of col­or face in health — as well as in eco­nom­ic se­cur­ity, poverty, edu­ca­tion­al at­tain­ment, polit­ic­al lead­er­ship, and en­tre­pren­eur­ship — in or­der to be com­pet­it­ive in the fast-grow­ing glob­al mar­ket.

Elim­in­at­ing these gaps is good for wo­men of col­or and their fam­il­ies, but it is also good for every­one be­cause it helps strengthen our work­force and pur­chas­ing power — and that’s good for the eco­nomy. We need a fu­ture work­force that is pre­pared, edu­cated, and healthy to take up and suc­ceed in the high-im­pact jobs in the in­nov­at­ive in­dus­tries that our na­tion seeks so much to cre­ate.

In­vest­ing in wo­men of col­or is an op­por­tun­ity for our coun­try to achieve two goals at the same time — im­prove the live­li­hood of wo­men of col­or and strengthen our na­tion as whole. Not of­ten do op­por­tun­it­ies to ac­com­plish two goals at once come along, and it is even less of­ten that we cap­it­al­ize on them. But if we em­brace this op­por­tun­ity, we stand to bright­en our na­tion’s di­verse fu­ture.

MOST READ
What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
19 hours ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
22 hours ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×