Health disparities costing Massachusetts nearly $6 billion per year

June 15, 2023 – Health inequities experienced by people of color in Massachusetts are costing the state an estimated $5.9 billion each year, according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and the Health Equity Compact.

Among Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian populations in Massachusetts, avoidable health care spending every year costs $1.5 billion, lost labor productivity costs $1.4 billion, and premature deaths cost $3 billion, according to the analysis.

In making the case for Massachusetts to take action on health inequities, the report noted that the economic toll of disparities falls on residents and businesses statewide: People have to pay higher health insurance premiums; taxpayers who fund the cost of MassHealth, the state’s insurance program for lower-income people, face higher costs; and employees and employers in a wide range of industries suffer from lost productivity.

“Moreover, in addition to the tragic human toll of premature death, the families not built, and milestones not celebrated, Massachusetts also misses out on the contribution those individuals would have made to the Commonwealth’s society and economy,” the report’s executive summary stated.

Health Equity Compact member Lumas Helaire, assistant dean for population health management and health equity education and a visiting lecturer in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was among those who collaborated on the report. The Compact is a coalition of more than 65 leaders of color working together to advance health equity throughout Massachusetts.

Read a WBUR article about the report: Health leaders call for action to end disparities that cost Mass. an estimated $5.9 billion per year