The Link Between Unequal Health Care And Poverty: Causes And Implications

2216 words - 9 pages

One of the most prevalent and pervasive social issues in the United States today is the provision of equal access to health care for the impoverished. Far too many people live in conditions of poverty and struggle to find the means by which to meet their basic needs. For those without insurance, access to medical care is often preempted by other necessities. An unexpected medical expense can push this group further into poverty. Those who do have insurance may find themselves underinsured in the event of an emergency and unable to make the necessary co-payments. Alternatively, the insured’s provider may refuse to cover certain conditions. Besides the cost of adequate insurance and the ...view middle of the document...

Minority racial groups in high-poverty areas are also more likely than Whites to use emergency services. (Chun-Chung Chow)
Mental health must be considered alongside physical health to best understand the relationship between race, poverty, and health. Minorities typically arrive in high-poverty areas in small groups through immigration or other routes. Due to the homogeneity of minority communities in high-poverty areas, it is expected that minorities would have less severe mental illness than their White counterparts.(Chun-Chung Chow) It has been shown that the prevalence of major depressive disorder as well as dysthymia differ significantly by racial group. While whites have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with major depressive disorder, Blacks and Latinos have a greater likelihood of being diagnosed with dysthymia. Across all races, the people living in poverty were nearly one and a half times more likely to develop either major depressive disorder or dysthymia. Findings have shown the greater prevalence of chronic dysthymia in poor Blacks and Latinos can be linked to their impoverished status. (Riolo)
Blacks have higher rates of death, disease, and disability than Whites. Studies of mental health also have a tendency to find higher levels of psychological distress and lower levels of subjective well-being. Historically, most research on racial differences in health has suggested that these disparities stemmed from Blacks and Whites being biologically distinct. Much of the research supporting that claim was intentionally misleading and aimed to provide backing for prejudicial policies already in place. Because Blacks were and are often discriminated against, researchers have emphasized that differences in socio-economic circumstances are centrally responsible for differences in health when compared with Whites. The comparative socio-economic status of blacks and whites is illustrated by the following: the median family income for Blacks is sixty-three percent lower, three times as likely to be poor, and twice as likely not to have graduated from college. All of these things are linked back to higher levels of stress and lower levels of subjective well-being which can all lead to health concerns for an individual. Adjustment for socio-economic status typically reduces or eliminates racial disparities in health. Discrimination against Blacks on a large scale over a long period of time has led to a discrepancy in socio-economic status and health when compared against Whites.
Another topic relevant to poverty and health is age. Human life expectancy has increased greatly over the past century; however the maximum life span has not increased at the same rate. This creates two possible scenarios. The first scenario suggests that the maximum life-span not increasing with life expectancy will cause the onset of morbidity and disability to be postponed until the very end of life, thereby reducing the need for extended medical...

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