AHOSKIE, N.C. — The railroad tracks cut through Weyling White’s boyhood backyard like an invisible fence. He would play there on sweltering afternoons, stacking rocks along the rails under the watch of his grandfather, who established a firm rule: Weyling wasn’t to cross the right of way into the white part of town.
The other side had nicer homes and parks, all the medical offices, and the town’s only hospital. As a consequence, White said, his family mostly got by without regular care, relying on home remedies and the healing hands of the Baptist church. “There were no health care resources whatsoever,” said White, 34. “You would see tons of worse health outcomes for people on those streets.”
An algorithm that produces the same risk score for a 32-year-old man with anxiety and hypothyroidism as for a 70-year-old man with dementia, kidney and heart failure, lung disease, high blood pressure, prior stroke and heart attack isn’t flawed, it’s garbage. It’s time for the health system to jettison these algorithms, which just compound racial (and financial) bias.
I would like to see comparisons between white men and women.
This concern about a low Black coverage rate is a problem fails to look at the effect of privately insured heath care on death rates. The Non-Hispanic whites aged 25-64 had a crude death rate of 349.811in 1999 and in 2018 that death rate was up to 433.478. That is a 23.9% increase in their death rate. Among Blacks the same age group crude death rate declined from 595.331 to 558.437. That is a 6.2% reduced death rate, not excellent but better than the awful middle-aged Non-Hispanic White. In general it looks like the private health insurance industry is using the prediction of high health care needs to deny early life saving treatment to make more money. These simple calculations are based on data obtained from: http://wonder.cdc.gov
I did not see anywhere in this article where the algorithms looked at race for anything. If it appears to be “bias” because certain races are disproportionately under insured that is not the algorithms fault. I am in the Medical business and everyone needs to understand that medical providers make decisions on patients healthcare everyday using factors such as is the patient insured or self pay? Does the insurance of this patient authorize this procedure or not? That has nothing to do with algorithms.
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