Major Key Alert: How Being Gainfully Employed Increases Your Life Expectancy
By Shakera Moreland
- Only 55% of the Black population had access to private health insurance through their employer in 2019
- African American seniors historically have a lower life expectancy and are twice as likely to develop hypertension by 55
It’s no secret that African Americans bear the brunt of the biggest health issues currently plaguing our healthcare system including high blood pressure, diabetes, and strokes, all without adequate insurance. One of the top ways to get access to affordable private healthcare is through employment. Sadly, only 55% of the Black population had access to private health insurance through their employer in 2019. What role does the lack of health insurance across this demographic play in these constant health battles?
Why This Matters: The answer to the health conundrum is theoretically simple: increase the quality of employment for African Americans so that we can qualify for affordable health insurance. Despite what many are led to believe, health disparities in the African American are not because they are naturally predisposed to being highly susceptible to many of these ailments. In actuality they are presented with a conglomerate of factors that are generally harder for them to control. Having access to preventable care would help address many of these factors, before chronic disease development.
Studies have shown that African American seniors historically have a lower life expectancy, are twice as likely to develop hypertension, they are also twice as likely to die from diabetes, and 50% more likely to have a stroke than our white counterparts. Now, being able to understand and then navigate the healthcare system once we have access to it, well that’s another beast altogether, but adequate employment is definitely step one.
Situational Awareness: This, of course, is a loaded solution that impacts all other areas of the Black experience. You can’t tackle gainful employment without examining diversity in the workplace. You can’t tackle employment without ensuring a qualified pipeline, and you can’t have a qualified pipeline without proper education. You can’t ensure proper education without examining education quality which correlates with housing. Where African Americans can live, ultimately influences access to healthy food which directly impacts life expectancy. In summation, fixing employment will improve the Black healthcare experience.
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