For some of us, the past year has brought into sharp focus the complex relationship between systemic racism and health outcomes in the United States. For many more, it has long been apparent and its effects deeply tangible in the lived experience of tens of millions of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Americans.
COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on communities of color was not a unique event but the continuation of a pattern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans are almost three times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with White Americans and twice as likely to die. But they are also two to three times as likely to die from heart disease or diabetes. Similar disparities can be found in Latinx and Indigenous populations and in other communities of color.
Beyond mortality risk, health disparities also mean more serious illnesses to treat — which place cost and resource burdens on the health system in ways that magnify their effects on all of us.
While solving these disparities is a challenge bigger than one person, one company or even one industry — we believe that companies like CVS Health can play a significant role in improving health equity in the United States. Our pharmacy benefit manager, CVS Caremark recently released its 2020 Drug Trend Report, looking at the many ways in which the past year placed a spotlight on issues of social justice and health inequities — and how we can do our part to create equitable health access for every American.
CVS Caremark’s approach with members is to find the most efficient, clinically rigorous path to care. This means not only identifying the most effective treatments for the lowest cost, but also looking at how we can best ensure adherence to those treatments, and communicate health information and provide care that meets the member where they are.