The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation released “Racism and Racial Inequities in Health: A Data-Informed Primer on Health Disparities in Massachusetts.” This primer serves as a foundational resource to broaden the collective understanding of racial and ethnic health inequities and disparities in the Commonwealth as part of the foundation’s new focus area of Structural Racism and Racial Inequities in Health. The primer is intended to support discussion about how our healthcare system and other systems that impact health enhance or undermine health, and to facilitate the development of solutions to strengthen those systems to serve all Massachusetts residents.
To the extent possible in the confines of a data-focused report, the primer acknowledges critical context about the historical and structural contributors to the racial and ethnic health inequities and disparities that exist today. By shining a light on social drivers of health and measures of access to coverage and care, service utilization, quality and consumer experience, health outcomes, and the impact of COVID-19 across racial and ethnic groups, it offers a framework for better understanding the multiple factors that impact health care experiences and health outcomes.
The primer is not intended to be an exhaustive compilation of data; nonetheless, it presents a data-informed reflection of the racial and ethnic health inequities and disparities Massachusetts residents confront today. It is intended to serve as a basis for further discussion and action, including to evolve and improve the data resources that shed light on racism and racial inequities in Massachusetts’ social and health care systems. Moving forward, the foundation’s work in this focus area will aim to identify and elevate health care policies and practices that may be able to advance health equity and reduce health disparities in the Commonwealth.