Health News Roundup

How school districts can worsen inequality, and more in this week’s roundup

Kevin Carey, TIME, February 20
Almost everyone in St. Joseph, Michigan is white. Almost everyone in Benton Harbor is black. Nearly half the people in Benton Harbor live in poverty, and the median household income is barely $20,000. The border between these two Michigan school districts is one of the 10 most economically segregated school boundaries in America. Sixty-six years after Brown v. Board of Education and American education remains highly segregated by race and class, perpetuated in part by a patchwork of school districts carefully separating the rich from the poor. Some states are better than others, sending additional money to districts with high levels of poverty. But overall, students who live in poor districts get poorly funded schools, and rich students get rich ones.
Agnes Constante, NBC News, February 24
Asian Americans typically rank as healthier than the general U.S. population. But a new study from researchers at Brown University and UCLA says that’s true only when data are looked at collectively. When researchers disaggregated the data, they uncovered a number of disparities, among them that Japanese respondents had higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic whites and Asians overall, and Japanese and Koreans reported higher rates of diabetes than non-Hispanic whites and Asians overall. The study also found that Filipinos appeared to be in the worst health of all Asian subgroups, reporting a greater prevalence of high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease and delayed medication usage. The study highlights the importance of disaggregating data to avoid reaching inaccurate conclusions about health and to be able to identify and target future priorities for research, policy and health programs.

Parkland Hospital is hiring community health workers to fix health disparities

Lucas Manfield, Dallas Observer, February 25
Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas has a new focus on tackling health disparities in the areas poorest ZIP codes. The hospital is hiring community health workers and plans to deploy them in southern Dallas to help fight heightened mortality rates, particularly among black residents. The plan is part of a larger effort to direct more of the hospital’s resources beyond its walls to address health disparities among local communities.
Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, February 20
Fewer residents signed up for their health coverage through Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, during the 2020 open enrollment period than during the previous year. The reason for the drop appears to be that more people are signing up for insurance through their employer while others are choosing Medicare or Medicaid coverage. Access Health launched a campaign last fall to target the 187,000 uninsured Connecticut residents. Using tools that analyze census tracts, workers identified neighborhoods where a majority of the uninsured live and canvassed homes in those areas to talk with people about their coverage options and sign them up. Nearly 30,000 homes were visited and more than 300 new customers were signed up with hundreds more renewing their plans.