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Racial, Ethnic Divide in U.S. Views of Pandemic, Healthcare
Wellbeing

Racial, Ethnic Divide in U.S. Views of Pandemic, Healthcare

by Nicole Willcoxon, Ph.D.

Story Highlights

  • Black, Hispanic adults are more stressed about getting COVID-19
  • Black adults more likely to know someone who died due to healthcare costs
  • Black, Hispanic adults more worried about unequal access to healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the world faces the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, Black and Hispanic Americans are significantly more worried than White Americans about getting infected with COVID-19. Nearly seven in 10 Black adults (69%) and Hispanic adults (68%) are very or somewhat stressed about contracting COVID-19, compared with 57% of White adults, according to a survey by West Health and Gallup.

Americans' Levels of Stress About Getting Infected With COVID-19, by Race/Ethnicity
Over the past year, how stressed have you been about each of the following? Getting infected with COVID-19
Very stressed Somewhat stressed Not very stressed Not at all stressed
% % % %
U.S. adults 23 37 23 17
Black adults 31 38 20 12
Hispanic adults 32 36 19 13
White adults 20 37 24 20
Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 18-21, 2021
West Health/Gallup

The survey was conducted by web Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 18-21 via the nationally representative Gallup Panel. The survey was fielded during the delta variant wave in the U.S. but prior to the omicron variant. During the survey field periods, new case counts averaged about 110,000 per day in September and 80,000 per day in October, compared with over 140,000 today. The full study results can be found in the West Health-Gallup 2021 Healthcare in America Report.

Agreement Across Groups About Some Elements of Healthcare, but Not All

The West Health-Gallup study highlights continued disparities in access to healthcare and in health outcomes in the U.S. Black Americans (8%) are twice as likely as White Americans (4%) to say they know someone who has died in the past year due to an inability to pay for treatment.

At the same time, Americans across racial and ethnic groups agree that healthcare is too expensive and that costs do not match the quality of care. More than 90% of adults among each group say the general cost of care is too high and that they pay too much for the quality of care they receive, and about 70% indicate that healthcare costs are a financial burden for them. Additionally, 51% of U.S. adults overall -- including 51% of White, 47% of Black and 56% of Hispanic adults -- say the cost of healthcare causes them daily stress.

Americans' Perspectives on the Burden of Healthcare Costs, by Race/Ethnicity
Healthcare costs
too high
Pay too much
for quality of
healthcare received
Healthcare costs major/minor
financial burden
Healthcare costs
cause daily stress
% % % %
U.S. adults 94 93 70 51
Black adults 93 93 67 47
Hispanic adults 93 94 73 56
White adults 95 93 70 51
Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 18-21, 2021
West Health/Gallup

Importance of Cost When Deciding Whether to Follow a Doctor's Recommendation

Yet, differences between groups emerge on some key questions related to healthcare quality and costs. Hispanic Americans (72%) and Black Americans (70%) are more likely than White Americans (62%) to say that cost is an important determinant in whether they follow their doctor's recommendation.

Americans' Perceptions of the Importance of Cost When Deciding Whether to Follow a Doctor's Recommendation, by Race/Ethnicity
When considering a recommended procedure or medicine from your doctor, how important is the cost in determining if you follow the recommendation?
Extremely important Important Somewhat important Not at all important
% % % %
U.S. adults 33 32 25 10
Black adults 40 30 20 10
Hispanic adults 38 34 23 6
White adults 30 32 27 11
Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 18-21, 2021
West Health/Gallup

A separate Gallup Center on Black Voices survey shows that 32% of Hispanic Americans and 30% of Black Americans say they faced a time in the past 12 months when they could not pay for healthcare, compared with 23% of White Americans. In addition, Black and Hispanic Americans (at 34% each) are more likely than White Americans (28%) to say they could not afford quality healthcare today if they needed it.

The stress and uncertainty of the past two years have made Black and Hispanic Americans especially worried about the consequences of a strained healthcare system. Seventy-four percent of Black Americans and 68% of Hispanic Americans say that because of the pandemic, they are now more concerned about some Americans' unequal access to quality healthcare services, while fewer White Americans agree (56%). Larger majorities of Black Americans (77%) and Hispanic Americans (73%) express concern about fellow Americans' wellbeing with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, compared with 66% of White Americans.

Bottom Line

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely than White Americans to be hospitalized from COVID-19 and 1.7 times more likely to die from the disease. Similarly, Hispanic Americans are 2.4 times more likely than White Americans to be hospitalized from COVID-19 and 1.9 times more likely to die from it. Reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also show that Hispanic Americans and Black Americans are more likely than White Americans to be uninsured, to receive lower-quality healthcare, and to have chronic health problems such as diabetes and obesity.

Although racial and ethnic health disparities are a long-standing policy problem that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Health-Gallup survey results suggest that the pandemic is underscoring such disparities.

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/389954/racial-ethnic-divide-views-pandemic-healthcare.aspx
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