Alan Zerembo, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
(The L.A. Times) – On most health measures, blacks fare much worse than whites — differences that have largely been attributed to socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare and discrimination by doctors in the treatments they prescribe.
But if there were a health system in which all patients basically got the same care, would the disparities still exist?
It turns out there is such a system: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And a new analysis of nearly 3.1 million patients in the VA system has found a different kind of racial divide: Blacks do significantly better than whites.
Over a nine-year period, researchers found that the adjusted mortality rate of African Americans was 24% lower than that of whites, according to a study published this month in the journal Circulation.
“We thought we were going to show they do the same if the same care is offered to both groups,” said senior author Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, a nephrologist and epidemiologist at UC Irvine. “But we found blacks do even better.
“This is a paradox within a paradox,” he said.
The results suggest that blacks may have genetic or other biological advantages that make them healthier than whites in some ways, but that those advantages are canceled out by other factors in society at large, the study authors wrote.