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Expand chart
Data: Dieleman, et al., 2021, “US Health Care Spending by Race and Ethnicity, 2002-2016”; Chart: Axios Visuals

The amount of per-person health care spending is highest among white individuals compared to patients of other races, even after adjusting for age and health conditions, according to a study led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle.

Why it matters: The study, published Tuesday in JAMA, provides evidence of inequities by race and ethnicity "from how physicians respond to patients to bias that exists in the algorithms that assess health needs and determine the appropriate intervention," the researchers write.

The details: Researchers from the set out to measure health care spending by race to understand patterns in utilization and treatments.

  • The study included data from 7.3 million health system visits, admissions or prescriptions captured in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2002 to 2016 and the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey from 2002 to 2012.

By the numbers: Of the $2.4 trillion spent across six types of care included in this study, health care spending per person spending for white individuals averaged $8,141 and accounted for 72% of health care spending.

  • Per-person spending was the lowest, or $4,692, for Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander individuals.
  • The average per-person spending for Black individuals and Hispanic individuals was $7,361 and $6,025, respectively.

Zoom in: The researchers observed differences in health care usage by race. For instance, white individuals received an estimated 15% more spending on ambulatory care than the all-population mean.

  • Meanwhile, spending for Black individuals was 26% less on ambulatory care than the all-population mean but was 19% more on inpatient and 12% more spending on emergency care.
  • Hispanic individuals received about 33% less spending per person on ambulatory care than the all-population mean.
  • Spending for Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander individuals was less than the all-population mean on all types of care, except dental care.

Big picture: The study was one of a series of studies examining racial and ethnic inequities in medicine published by the journal this week.

  • Another analysis showed that living in a more highly disadvantaged neighborhood was associated with a 32% increased risk of dying from any cause and a 57% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Another study found African American patients with nonmetastatic triple-negative breast cancer had a 28% increased risk of death compared with their white counterparts, even after the researchers adjusted for age, insurance status, county-level socioeconomic deprivation, and rural residency.

Go deeper

Biden meeting with key House Democrats

President Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is hosting two separate in-person meetings with moderate and progressive House members at the White House on Tuesday as infrastructure negotiations continue, White House officials told Axios.

Why it matters: This is the latest in the president’s efforts to appease the more volatile parts of his party’s coalition as Democrats wrangle over how to cut his social spending proposal down from $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.

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