Dr Patricia Salber Explains the Disparities Affecting Healthcare Today

Patricia Salber, MD, MBA, of The Doctor Weighs In, said that geographic location is one of the largest disparities impacting healthcare today, for it affects not only the types of plans available to individuals based upon where they live, but it also has an impact on the actual health outcomes of communities across the nation.

Patricia Salber, MD, MBA, of The Doctor Weighs In, said that geographic location is one of the largest disparities impacting healthcare today, for it affects not only the types of plans available to individuals based upon where they live, but it also has an impact on the actual health outcomes of communities across the nation.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How do you see the rising cost of drugs and healthcare affecting disparities?

We already have a huge disparity in healthcare and it’s really a geographic disparity that I don’t see people talking about very much. And the fact is that there’s a real difference between the northern part of the country and the southern part of the country in terms of health insurance, who expanded the Affordable Care Act. It’s not just the southern states that didn’t but a lot of the southern states didn’t expand Medicaid. A lot of them didn’t and even before the expansion of Medicaid, if you look at who is covered in Medicaid in some of the southern states, one of them, I think it's Mississippi, you have to be 29% of the poverty level. So that’s leaving a lot of people out who are uninsured.

But even beyond that, there’s disparities in actual health outcomes. So those of us who do what I do, we talk about the stroke belt, the obesity belt, the heart attack belt, they’re all the same. It’s this southeastern part of the United States. So we have this big disparity now but I think with these new drugs that are coming down the pike, you’re going to see benefit design’s that say, yeah we’ll cover that $80,000 drug but we’re going to put it in the fourth tier with a 25% co-insurance, which means if you got money and these are curative drugs, you’re going to pay for it. But if you don’t have money, you may be getting standard chemotherapy instead.