Apr 22, 2024 - News

Black Floridians more likely to die from preventable illness, report finds

Illustration of a pattern of bandaids in different shades.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Black Floridians are more likely to die early from preventable illnesses than their white counterparts, a new Commonwealth Fund report finds.

Why it matters: Health equity doesn't exist anywhere in the United States, the report's author said. The data also shows the pandemic's disproportionate health effects on Black communities.

What they found: Preventable illnesses cause over 300 deaths per 100,000 Black Floridians under 75 years old — higher than any other racial demographic in Florida.

  • Florida also had a higher rate of preventable deaths among white Americans than the national average. Asian Americans in the state have the lowest premature death rates from treatable illnesses.
Death rate before age 75 from preventable causes in Florida
Data: The Commonwealth Fund via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Axios Visuals

The fine print: The report analyzed federal data captured between 2020-2022 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Census Bureau.

  • Researchers observed that Hispanic Americans tend to have lower premature mortality rates than Black and white Americans.
  • This could be because the Hispanic population is younger, more diverse, and less likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking, researchers noted.

Between the lines: Unequal access to primary care and comprehensive health insurance help perpetuate racial health disparities, the report said.

The bottom line: The Affordable Care Act and other initiatives have narrowed the country's entrenched racial and ethnic health gaps, but there's still a long way to go.

  • Abortion bans and the rise of artificial intelligence, among other things, are complicating the work of reversing systemic inequities.
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