Inequity: Ethnic And Racial Disparity In American Health Care

1735 words - 7 pages

As Americans, we are all equal, right? Well, why are there differences (or disparities) rampant throughout our nation’s health care system. These disparities can sometimes indicate that there is unequal treatment of Americans in our nation. In 2002, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published the leading report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. The report proved there is in-fact, racial and ethnic disparities in American health care, and amid the many health care services available. Disparities in health care are of-course, not only prevalent across racial demarcations, but also across one’s sexual orientation, social class, socioeconomic position, sex, and geographic location (U.S.). Medical organizations like the AHRQ and the Health & Human Services Dept. are dedicated to bringing about equal health care to all Americans. These organizations have invested a lot of time and money into studies, making it possible for all Americans to research this issue in greater depth. This report is an attempt to provide some insight on the issue of ethnic/racial inequity in health care treatment in America. First, we’ll look at the stats that prove there are discernible ethnic/racial disparities in our health care system, and then we’ll examine why racial and ethnic disparities may exist and what methods can be employed to solve them.
The numbers show ethnic/racial disparities do persist in our health care system. The IOM believes that, because these disparities are associated with worse outcomes, they are unacceptable. In recent decades there has been an overall improvement in Americans’ health, but it has not necessarily been equal improvement. For instance, 18% of Hispanics, 20% of Blacks, and 16% of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) reported being in fair or poor health; compared to 11% of Whites (“Addressing”). Statistics regarding minorities’ lack of a usual source of health care also stand out. The AHRQ conducted a Medical Expenditure Panel Survey that concluded, 30% of Hispanics and 20% of Blacks lack a usual source of health care; this is compared to less than 16% of Whites. The survey also concluded Hispanics and Blacks are far more likely to rely on the hospital, particularly the emergency room, as their usual source of health care. The AHRQ also states that Whites are more likely than Blacks and Hispanics to receive many specific procedures and treatments. More than other racial groups, Blacks are likely to suffer from risk factors and diseases like obesity, cancers, chronic illnesses, or disabilities; and even across similar income levels and age groups (Mead et al. 19-25). AIDS is another epidemic that disproportionately affects minorities in America. In 2003, data showed the number of Hispanics with AIDS was three times higher than whites (26 per 100,000 vs 7 per 100,000) and the number of Blacks with AIDS was ten times higher than Whites (75 per 100,000 vs 7 per 100,000) (“Eliminating”)....

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