Sure, history has turned a corner for African Americans. There's that one president. (And he might just get reelected if gas stays below $8 a gallon). There's multimillionaire Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry. And basketball sensation Jeremy Lin. Wait. He's what now?
Oh, you get the picture.
But UCLA researchers say that black men lose about 7 years in life expectancy when compared to white men. Today. Now.
They don't really say.
But the Bruin academics, in a paper to be published in the February edition of Health Services Research, argue that “low Medicaid eligibility may potentially be contributing to low life expectancy in white populations.”
Given that line of reasoning, such health coverage (or lack thereof), might be a key to life expectancy for African American men too:
… We found that Massachusetts and New York, two states where black populations have longer-than-expected life expectancy, are also the states that have expanded Medicaid coverage …
Researchers found that life expectancy in America was “74.79 years for white men and 67.66 years for black men.” The spread was 79.84 years for white women and 74.64 for African American men.
The places with the largest spread for men — more than eight years between whites and blacks — were New Jersey, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
Latinos, strangely, beat whites in life expectancy lately (we think it's the salsa).
What can be done about the disparity for African Americans?
Dr. Nazleen Bharmal, the study's lead researcher, says:
In our study, we show that the reason there are small disparities in life expectancy is because white populations are doing as poorly as black populations, and the goal in these states should be to raise health equity for all groups.
Let's do this.