Reducing Disparities in Healthcare
Reducing Disparities in Healthcare

Reducing Disparities in Healthcare

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  • Pages: 4 (1706 words)
  • Published: November 1, 2021
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Have you ever asked yourself why despite improvements in the health care sector and population health, there still exist so many disparities in health and healthcare? Do you wonder why disparities continue to be a long standing challenge in United States resulting in certain group of individuals receiving low quality healthcare leading to poor health outcomes? Many people when they hear the term disparities, they commonly associate them with race and ethnicity, however, disparities involve a wide spectrum of other issues which continue to pose a huge challenge in health care sector by continuously limiting improvement in population health and quality of care resulting in unnecessary costs for the State. This is a huge challenge threatening the wellbeing of our country’s population and costing us huge sums of revenue, and that calls for an immediate response. Imagine living in a country where all people are full of life and are treated equally. Is it that what we all long for? A country where health care is accessible equally and people are treated equally and fairly. This essay provides an outline of what health and healthcare disparities entails and sources of these disparities, why they are an important matter, and key efforts that can be implemented to address the issue.

Health and Healthcare Disparities

These refer to the differences

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in health care and provision of healthcare among populations. Health and health care disparities are two different but related concepts. Health disparities refers to burdens of illnesses, disabilities, injuries or mortalities faced by one group relative to another, while healthcare disparities refers to differences experienced by groups with respect to care usage, quality of care, access and health coverage. Health and health care disparities, more specifically, may also refer to differences that variations in patient preferences, health care needs and treatments recommendations cannot explain. Disparities are experienced by different groups of individuals based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, status, disability and geography. Most disparities, in the United States, are common among racial and ethnic minorities, who represent approximately one-thirds of the country’s population (Marmot and Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2007).

Health disparity is a common problem affecting ethnic minorities in the United States. Studies indicate that compared with white populations, racial and ethnic minorities have higher mortality rates, higher chronic conditions prevalence and poorer health outcomes. According to statistics from The National Center for Health, blacks have a higher mortality rate compared to the white. Additionally, black infants have more than twice rates of infants mortality compared to white infants. African Americans have been reported to have incident of cancer at a rate of 10%, asthma at 28% higher than those of the whites and rates of systemic lupus erythematosus in African American females two to three times higher in white females. These minority groups also have higher prevalence of stroke, diabetes and other preventable conditions and diseases compared to the whites. Studies also indicate that African Americans have a high prevalent of infectious diseases including hepatitis C

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accounting for 22% of all cases reported. Additionally, out of all the cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and Chlamydia reported in 2007, African Americans accounted for 70% and 50% of cases respectively (Lillie-Blanton, 2008). In overall, African Americans compared to their white counterparts are more likely to experience health disparities at some point in their medical history.

These minorities are likely to experience health care disparities. Minorities are bound to experience various barriers including cultural barriers and differences in socio-economic language hindering access to proper health care resulting higher rates of hospital readmissions as well as poorer health outcomes. Statistics indicates that African Americans are more likely to succumb to heart diseases (Spinks et al, 2012). Several researches indicate that clinical needs or access related factors, appropriateness of intervention mechanisms and preferences are not the root causes differences experienced in access of quality health care. They also indicate that these groups of minorities were more likely to receive lower quality services and less likely to access medical procedures on routine basis. This is because on many occasions, health providers may stereotype minorities, display uncertainty during treatment and show some form of biasness in treating them.

Sources of Disparities

Disparities in health care stems for a number of complex and interrelated factors including individual factors, health systems, providers, environmental and societal factors. Individual factors encompasses a person’s behaviors ranging from maintenance of a healthy diets and lifestyles to adherence to medical advices while provider factors entail a number of issues including barriers to provider-patient communication as well as provider’s biasness (Lillie-Blanton, 2008). Health care’s delivery, organization and finances shape disparities while environmental and social factors including education, poverty and proximity also play a role in health and health care disparities.

Economic and social factors including education, income levels and the surrounding living conditions have been identified as the main drivers of health disparities. Studies indicate that white holding a bachelor degree were likely to live 17 years longer than a high school black drop out and vice versa. it also indicated that adults lacking decent financial foundations were less likely to have access to safe playground or healthy foods. Surrounding neighborhoods and geography are also likely to increase health disparities because of the prevailing conditions. Blacks are reported to experience high rates of health disparities compared to the whites because they are believed to live in neighborhoods full of fast-food outlets, dump sites and factories and with less recreational facilities and grocery stores. This exposes them to higher risks of deaths associated with unhealthy lifestyles. Health disparities may also stem from increased stress resulting from social environments leading to increased incidents of diseases. Poverty and other hardships cause chronic stress increasing the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol leading to low immune system performance (Betancourt, 2006).

Health care disparities are also experienced by minorities for various. Poverty is one of the main contributors of health care disparities. Secondly, most minorities have low socioeconomic status translating to inability to secure health insurance covers thus, limiting their ability to access to quality health care. Thirdly, the existence of biasness and ignorance from providers has made it difficult

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