Opportunity for Health

Building Black Wealth — The Role of Health Systems in Closing the Gap

Atheendar S. Venkataramani, MD, PhD · Eugenia South · George Dalembert
New England Journal of Medicine · September 1, 2022

Health systems, as key institutions responsible for health in the United States, are well positioned to directly address racial wealth disparities, and thereby ameliorate racial health disparities. For example, the health care sector is the largest U.S. employer and the largest employer of Black Americans, but Black staff members are often among the lowest-paid employees and have the worst health outcomes. In addition, health systems help to drive their local economies, with both job opportunities and purchasing power. We believe that health systems that do not address the racial wealth gap are abdicating some of their responsibility for improving the health of the country.