With the 2010 enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the American Kidney Fund 2014 policy priorities for 2014 target universal healthcare access for individuals with kidney disease coincide with full effect of the new Act this year. At present, chronic kidney disease affects nearly 31 million Americans. The risk to millions more is basis to advocacy and policy to provide adequate testing and early treatment intervention.

The Affordable Care Act is intended to bridge the gap in health coverage; barring insurer denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions or post- agreement diagnosis. Chronic renal disease is one of the targeted illnesses cited in studies leading up to the 2010 policy design. The number of U.S. patients with chronic kidney disease who, prior to the Act did have access to affordable coverage, offered evidence to the demand for universal healthcare coverage.

Of the medically underserved population of chronic renal disease patients in the U.S., the number of diagnosed minority patients was proven to be disproportionally higher. The correlation of race and ethnicity in studies of chronic kidney conditions reflects sampling from healthcare research institutions across the nation. The acknowledgement that results show that disparities in health outcomes along racial and ethnic lines offers indicators that environmental as well as genetic factors are contributing to distribution of frequencies in findings to those tests.

Dependent variables such as cultural and environmental factors, behaviors, biologic mediators and psychosocial factors, are all said to contribute to standard deviations in risk. For instance, the disproportionate reporting of African American patients with chronic kidney disease in clinical outcomes evidences that along with race and ethnicity there are other key factors such as socioeconomic status, income and nutritional education affecting contraction of the chronic illness. Medical factors like diabetes and hypertension are cited to be main influencers on renal failure.

Research on the reasons why African American’s suffer disproportionately a higher rate of morbidity and mortality as a result of renal disease covers a range of preventable, secondary causes ranging from socioeconomic issues and lack of direct access to clinical information on the topic within communities. In longitudinal tests measuring rate of mortality prevention between ethnic groups where renal disease was risk, showed no significant change between African Americans and Caucasian Americans, with the latter group preventing tens of thousands of parallel cases in response to access to healthcare education and pharmacological care in the form of kidney supplements prior to needing dialysis.

Since the enactment of the 2010 Act, the increase in African American participation in preventive care programs for chronic illness has risen. Now in full force, the new legislation designed to protect the healthcare interests of black and other Americans in early diagnosis, treatment and after care. Early diagnosis is half the battle, suggest chronic care specialists. Patients who involve themselves in the actionable determinants of health before the first signs and symptoms of a chronic condition progress, are in a better position to improve their overall health are wellness long term. A compelling case for the Act’s concentration on medically underserved patients in the country, the hope is that those with undetected chronic conditions will be diagnosed.

For more on this topic:

The Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act–It May Help the Kidney Community.  National Kidney Foundation 2013.