Unfortunately, health issues don’t affect everyone equally. Here are a few sobering statistics that may surprise you.
- For most cancers, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any group in the United States.
- Hispanic and African-American women who get breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage than white women are.
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest incidence rates for both liver and stomach cancers and are twice as likely to die from these cancers as whites are.
- African Americans are 1.4 times as likely as whites to have high blood pressure.
- African Americans are much more likely than people in other racial/ethnic groups to die from heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the biggest reasons for inequality in life expectancy between whites and African Americans.
- In general, minorities have less access to, and less availability of, mental health services.
- African Americans have 2.4 times the infant mortality rate than non-Hispanic whites do.
Maybe that didn’t surprise you. Insurance carriers, health care professionals and people who create health policies are slowly recognizing the need to address these inequalities. It’s key that their efforts provide better outcomes for all minorities who are impacted.
In the meantime, become your own health care advocate. Here are a few ways you can do that for yourself and for family members.
- Understand your coverage and options. Insurance companies are trying to make this easier but if the materials you receive aren’t clear, or you don’t have easy access to the information, make a phone call. Most providers now have advocates who are there to help you understand your coverage and options. Knowledge can be life-saving.
- Take advantage of all the programs offered that will help you. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made many preventive screenings like mammograms, and annual physicals a required part of your coverage with no additional charge. You may also have other options like a nurse phone line that you can call with questions about mediations and treatment options. Many offer classes (free) that support healthy lifestyle options like yoga, meditation and healthy cooking.
- Decide that your health is worth investing some time each day. Maybe it’s 10 minutes of prayer and meditation in the morning, or a short walk at lunchtime; do what works for you but start! Healthy habits are like unhealthy habits. The more you do them, the more they become part of your daily routine.
- Invest in yourself. I offer coaching that helps with mindfulness and stress management. Personal trainers can help you create a workout plan that suits your fitness level and lifestyle. A cooking class with a dietician can help you incorporate new foods that support your health. Find a resource that can help you get to the cause of an issue instead of treating the symptoms.
- Ask for help. If you aren’t getting the care you need, ask a family member or close friend for help. If you aren’t sure what options are available, reach out. Many of us don’t want to be a bother or choose to tough it out. Be honest with yourself and ask for help when you know something isn’t right.
- Get a second opinion. Especially if you didn’t feel heard. I’ve had two friends struggle with rare cancers because doctors didn’t take their concerns seriously for almost two years! Physicians are doing their best, but they are human.
- Maintain your own records. There are apps to do this electronically or do it old school and get copies from your doctor. If they retire or you decide to change physicians or move out of the area, you will have what you need. Document all your prescriptions and keep it up to date to reduce the chance of any problems.
We all know that our health is priceless. Don’t wait until you’re dealing with a chronic condition to look for answers.
Start today. An easy first step:
Reduce Stress. If you can manage your every-day stress, you can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attacks, weight gain and sleep issues and much more. It’s a great place to start advocating for your health.
I’m here to help. Click here to see how.