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Health disparities among racial and ethnic groups

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Health disparities among racial and ethnic groups

One of the more startling realities brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic was the gap in health among racial and ethnic groups. People of color are more likely to suffer complications from the coronavirus than individuals who are white and non-Hispanic.footnote1 While there may be many reasons for this, studies have shown that the populations disproportionately affected by coronavirus have higher levels of chronic illness, like diabetes and heart disease.footnote2 Another reason is that people of color report more perceived barriers to health care. A recent survey from the National Health Institute showed that over 20% of Black and 15% of Hispanic adults struggle to pay their medical bills.footnote3 Medical bills may be perceived as barriers to seeking routine care. People who attend regular doctor appointments, and adhere to prescribed medication and treatment plans, report better health outcomes. Reducing the gaps in health among racial and ethnic groups is an important step toward health equity and well-being for all.

PayFlex offers health benefit accounts that can encourage people to act on improving their health. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can help people manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, by providing tax-free dollars to help pay for eligible medications, doctor visits and necessary medical supplies. The “use it or lose it” rule can motivate patients to see their doctors and stick to their treatment plans designed to manage chronic conditions and improve overall health and well-being.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) offer tax free dollars to pay for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses. These accounts can be used in conjunction with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and can relieve some of the burden for medical care.

Well-being Reimbursement Accounts (WRAs) encourage health behaviors which can lower the risk of chronic disease. Employers can choose to reimburse employees for services like gym memberships, weight loss programs and nutrition counseling — all which encourage people to begin or maintain a healthy lifestyle. People who engage in healthy behaviors, like those covered by WRAs, are less likely to develop chronic illness.footnote4

COVID-19 brought attention to a problem that has been going on for decades in health care. By offering HSAs, WRAs, CVS retail discounts and other products and programs that help members save and pay for health care, employers can empower their employees to improve their health outcomes and remove some of the perceived barriers reported by people of color.




footnoteCarethers JM. Insights into disparities observed with COVID‐19. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2020;289(4):463-473. doi:10.1111/joim.13199
footnote2 Krouse HJ. COVID-19 and the Widening Gap in Health Inequity. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020 Jul;163(1):65-66. doi: 10.1177/0194599820926463. Epub 2020 May 5. PMID: 32366172.
footnote4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 10). CDC - Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policyno. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.