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Black Men Most Impacted By Built-In Inequities Of US Social System

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Black men in the United States are disadvantaged by the piecemeal and fragmented design of the American social state. The Absence of Universal Social Protections in the United States Harms Black Men, released Wednesday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), uses the example of the US health care system to illustrate that point. 

The US health care system disproportionately excludes non-elderly Black men from coverage, particularly during early adulthood, explains co-authors CEPR researcher Mariko Lewis, and CEPR Senior Policy Fellow Shawn Fremstad.

“Black men have the lowest rates of health insurance coverage, are less likely to get coverage from their jobs, and are less likely to have coverage from other sources,” said Lewis.

Nearly one-in-four Black men between the ages 26 to 29 are uninsured. While the rates of uninsurance decrease later in life, Black men remain the most likely to be without health insurance coverage between the ages of 50 to 64. 

The racial disparities in health insurance coverage is compounded by a stingy unemployment insurance system, lack of universal paid sick leave, and other comprehensive, inclusive social protections that exist in many other wealthy nations. Even social safety net programs like Medicaid have built-in “ordeal mechanisms” like punitive work tests, means-testing, and waitlisting, to discourage those who would benefit from them, but just give up. 

“Black men would be among the most well served by a more comprehensive and universal system of social protection than currently exists in the United States,” said Fremstad.

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