Jun 23, 2020 - Health

Black Medicare patients 4 times more likely to be hospitalized with coronavirus

A "prone team," wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), turns a COVID-19 patient onto his stomach in a Stamford Hospital intensive care unit (ICU), on April 24, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.
A medical team with a coronavirus patient in a Stamford Hospital intensive care unit in Stamford, Connecticut, in April. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Black Americans enrolled in Medicare have been hospitalized with the novel coronavirus at four times the rate of their white counterparts. And Hispanics on Medicare have been hospitalized roughly twice as much as white people.

Why it matters: The federal Medicare data, published on Monday, confirms what has been indicated anecdotally and in studies: The pandemic is disproportionately affecting people of color in a major way.

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement, "The disparities in the data reflect longstanding challenges facing minority communities and low income older adults, many of whom face structural challenges to their health that go far beyond what is traditionally considered 'medical.'"

By the numbers: From January 1 to May 16, more than 325,000 Medicare recipients were diagnosed with COVID-19, the CMS report states. Nearly 110,000 of those were hospitalized. 

  • Black Americans on Medicare made up 465 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 enrollees.
  • The CMS noted the rate is also high for Hispanic people — 258 hospitalizations per 100,000.
  • Asian Americans were "about one-and-a-half times more likely than whites to be hospitalized for COVID-19," AP notes. The rate for white people is 123 per 100,000.

Of note: The CMS found people enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid have a higher rate of coronavirus hospitalizations. (473 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries, compared to 112 hospitalizations per 100,000 for those enrolled only in Medicare.)

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