In order to make discussions of “social determinants of health” or “health disparities” less abstract, we can look at disturbing new findings about people with diabetes. People with the same disease in low income neighborhoods have dramatically higher chances of losing a limb, thus further endangering their families economic situation.
A study using census and UCLA’s California Health Interview Survey data and published in the August, 2014 issue of Health Affairs, found that Californians with diabetes in low-income neighborhoods are 10 times more likely than diabetics from wealthy neighborhoods to get their limbs amputated because of a diabetes-related infection.
This study was conducted using data collected before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, so it is possible that future numbers will reflect the positive impact of increased access to primary care.
Nationally, diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. More than 29 million Americans were reported to have diabetes in 2014, and about one-fourth of diabetics do not know they have it, according to the CDC.