Imagine if I told you that because of the color of your skin, you wouldn’t be allowed access to certain health care services.
Pretty outrageous, right?
After all, discrimination based on skin color or ethnicity is beyond the pale in 21st century America.
You might think it unfair, but you’d recall that certain disease states affect different groups of people at varying rates.
When we control for access to care, these differences in health outcomes are known to researchers and advocates as health care disparities.
One of the places I encounter disparate health outcomes most starkly is in the dialysis unit.
Dialysis is blood filtration for people whose kidneys have stopped working. It’s been around since the early1960s, but became mainstream therapy in 1973 when Congress expanded Medicare to include all persons with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
With that generous entitlement, no one with chronic kidney failure dies from it in the United States.