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October 22, 2021

A Policy Prescription for Reducing Health Disparities—Achieving Pharmacoequity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
JAMA. 2021;326(18):1793-1794. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.17764

In 2019, the US spent $3.8 trillion on health care, including an estimated $370 billion on retail prescription drugs alone.1 On average, individuals in the US spend more than $1100 per capita annually out of pocket on health care,2 but this spending is inequitably distributed. Specifically, racial and ethnic minority populations, who disproportionately experience higher prevalence and greater severity of chronic diseases, are more likely to not have sufficient insurance or lack insurance completely. As a result, Black individuals and Hispanic individuals often report the highest rates of cost-related delays in care and lower access to high-quality medication therapy.3

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1 Comment for this article
What is the Best Fix?
Mark Brakke, MD | Family Practice, retired. Minnesota
The article suggests a variety of unproven, and often administratively complex approaches.

The authors, in the last paragraph almost hit the nail on the head when they write "while pharmacoequity is necessary, it is not sufficient alone to achieve health equity."

I suggest there is a solution which is well proven when one looks around the world. Every other modern, high income nation has a medical financing system which covers all their residents at a much lower cost than in the US, and produces healthier residents, and is rated better by the residents than our US mess.
Improved Medicare for All is what we should have. Anything less than Improved Medicare for All is an admission that the US values business profits over health.

Let us go for health equity, not just pharmacoequity.