The Washington Post has an article today looking at the use of hospice care among minorities. The reasons cited by the article for why minorities are less likely than whites to choose hospice include “cost, health insurance and cultural factors, including a sense of being denied medical care on the basis of race.” I would add that this is not only a problem for hospice use, but for minorities and health care in general. For example, black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than whites, even though there is a higher incidence of breast cancer among white women. Blacks in general tend to suffer from higher incidences of heart disease and are less likely to receive the so-called “standard of care,” with some of the blame directed towards physicians, in addition to cost and cultural issues.
This is obviously a complicated problem that will take a multi-faceted approach, and it will probably be many years before race ceases to play a role in the quality of care recieved by people in this country. Fortunately much research has been done in the past decade to bring awareness to the issue, including the hospice article from today, and I’m confident more thought and research will continue to be devoted to potential solutions.