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African Americans Rate Health Issues More Vital Than Whites Do;
Are More Dissatisfied With System And Worried About Coverage


Survey Data Also Show Greater Support For Increased Regulation,
Coverage Expansions, AIDS Funding,
Health Affairs Article Says


BETHESDA, MD—African American voters are twice as likely as whites to view health care as one of the most important issues in deciding how they vote and say that they are more dissatisfied with the U.S. health care system than whites, according to a new article published today on the Health Affairs Web site.

African Americans in general have a more negative view of the health care system than whites and are more likely to support an activist government in health care policy, according to the article by Kalahn Taylor-Clark, a W.K. Kellogg fellow in health policy research at Harvard University, along with Robert Blendon and John Benson, experts on public opinion and health policy at Harvard.

Analyzing 26 national surveys, the authors found that among the areas of government activism more strongly supported by African Americans than by whites are covering the uninsured, greater regulation of some aspects of the health care system, increased attention to spending on HIV/AIDS, and ensuring the financial future of Medicare.

These data could be important to candidates seeking to attract African American voters in the 2004 primaries and elections. “Candidates must understand that African Americans view issues of health care policy as extremely important for themselves and their communities,” Taylor-Clark says. “On nearly every specific health policy measure, African Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans to feel that such issues are very important in determining for whom they will vote.”

Thirty-nine percent of African Americans are very dissatisfied with the health care system in the United States, compared with 25 percent of whites. Sixty percent of African Americans with health insurance were very worried that they won’t be able to afford health insurance in the next year, compared with just 24 percent of whites. Thirty-nine percent of African Americans with health insurance were very worried that they will lose insurance benefits, while just 13 percent of whites responded the same way.
African Americans also support the following initiatives at greater rates than whites:

• Efforts to cover the uninsured by expanding state government programs (90 percent versus 77 percent) and expanding neighborhood health clinics (90 percent versus 77 percent);

• Increased federal regulation of the quality of doctors and hospitals (61 percent versus 32 percent) and equality between minorities and whites in health care (90 percent versus 55 percent);

• Greater spending on HIV/AIDS in developing countries (49 percent versus 30 percent) and domestically (52 percent versus 36 percent).

The article can be read at http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.w3.576.

The article was supported by grants from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is a bimonthly multidisciplinary journal devoted to publishing the leading edge in health policy thought and research.

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©2003 Project HOPE–The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.