The lives of almost 84,000 black Americans could be saved each year, based on 2002 data, by bringing blacks' access to care and health status up to the level of whites, a report in the March/April Health Affairs said.
Blacks suffered 40.5% more deaths in 2002 than would have been expected had they been white, according to the report, one of several in an issue devoted to racial and ethnic disparties in healthcare.
The report -- "What if we were equal?" -- was written by former Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., and five other healthcare researchers. The gap between blacks and whites actually worsened from 1960 to 2000 in terms of infant mortality and life expectancy for men 35 and older. The increasing black-white disparity occurred despite improvements in black infant mortality.
Among women, however, the black-white gap shrank. The researchers attibuted the differences to less access to care, lower income, a spike in gun-related deaths and more HIV-related deaths among blacks.