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Life Expectancy of African Americans Rising and More Help Could be on the Way

Fraser Cobbe

Orange County Medical Society

Seminole County Medical Society

Wednesday's edition of the AMA Morning Rounds included a series of media reports delivering good news on life expectancy of African Americans. The AMA compiled a series of articles from the Washington Post, Reuters, and NBC News that highlighted data from a recent CDC report outlining positive trends in the overall health for the African American population.

The CDC report found a 25 percent decrease in the overall death rate for African Americans compared to a 14 percent decrease for whites between 1999 and 2015. Further, the average life expectancy was 75.6 years compared to 79 years for whites, an increase of 3.8 years for blacks and 1.7 years for whites since 2000.

While some of the data was encouraging there were continued warnings that significant disparities still exist. For example, blacks in their younger years succumb much more frequently to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and the death rate from HIV is still much higher in this population.

Another statistic of interest was the data that showed that African Americans between the age of 18 and 34 continue to lag far behind in the percentage of the population that have access to a personal doctor. The Florida Legislature continues to debate implementation of Direct Primary Care as an option for providing more low cost alternatives for patients to secure primary care services. These subscription style monthly programs may resonate with this younger population and provide greater access to care, increased opportunities for prevention, and may further address the health care disparities noted in the report.

As the Florida Legislative Session draws to a close, we hope our elected officials deliver further good news on improved health and access to care for our entire population.

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