Health News Roundup

The lack of racial disparities in the military health care system, and more in this week’s roundup

health disparities
Where racial gaps in American health care melt away: Military insurance
Carey Goldberg, WBUR, August 8
Past research has found a consistent pattern of racial inequality in American health care. Now, new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital finds an island of racial equality — among patients in the military health care system.

Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care? The answer has everything to do with race
Jeneen Interlandi, The New York Times Magazine, August 14
One hundred and fifty years after the freed people of the South first petitioned the government for basic medical care, the United States remains the only high-income country in the world where such care is not guaranteed to every citizen. In the United States, racial health disparities have proved as foundational as democracy itself. “There has never been any period in American history where the health of blacks was equal to that of whites,” Evelynn Hammonds, a historian of science at Harvard University, says. “Disparity is built into the system.” Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act have helped shrink those disparities. But no federal health policy yet has eradicated them.

Acculturation: A health risk for Latinos
Annika Darling, CT Latino News, August 12
Migrating from one culture to another can have negative impacts on health. Acculturation is difficult for many Latinos and has been heavily linked to chronic disease. How different the origin culture is from the new one plays a major role in the severity of the impact. According to many studies, those who can maintain a strong sense of home, of culture, tend to fare better in terms of health.

Coordinating care of mind and body might help Medicaid save money and lives
Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio, August 9
Modern medicine often views the mind and body on separate tracks, both in terms of treatment and health insurance reimbursement. But often patients with psychological disorders can have a hard time managing their physical health. Coordinating mental and physical health care presents business challenges because, typically, two different entities pay the bills, even within Medicaid programs. That’s why TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, started offering incentives to mental health providers who also guide patients in care related to their physical health.

global health
Kenya hopes its first human milk bank will save infants’ lives
Annabelle Timsit, Quartz Africa, August 13
Every morning at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi, a group of new mothers files into a spacious room housing Kenya’s first human milk bank. The room is lined on either side with private lactation booths separated by curtains speckled with hearts and stars. They’re there to donate their extra breast milk to the hospital’s premature babies in need. That need is great. One of the leading causes of deaths of children under five is complications related to births that happen before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This is a global problem, but one that is unevenly distributed, with more than 60% of premature births happening in Africa and South Asia.