Health disparities refer to the differences in the quality of the healthcare services across the different populations. Health disparity results due to difference in several factors, which are beyond the rich of human influence. Disparity refers to some kind of social injustice that happens with respect to the health services amongst the different individuals in the given society (Kawachi, Subramanian, & Almeida-Filho, 2002). Some section of the society will have access to all the types of healthcare services, and other section of the society will have access to only limited types of healthcare services.
As a result, people with limited access will suffer, and their life will be endangered more in comparison with those who have access to all the types of healthcare services. And, disparity is not only limited to access to healthcare services, but it is also related to the difference in the health outcomes and difference in the way people approach for several healthcare services. Such disparities are observed amongst different race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and others. The thesis of this paper shall focus upon healthcare disparities existing within the United States, and the role of government in implementing policies that will eliminate such disparities.
It has been found that, socioeconomic status plays a key role in determining the status of health of the given society. This factor also helps in determining the disparities in health amongst the entire populations. Poor socioeconomic status immediately tells the scenario of limiting access to all the healthcare services. People will not be able to access the healthcare services due to lack of financial capital, and hence they will be required to compromise on their maintaining of good health.
As per the reports of NHS reforms in 2000, it was found that, income was the major determinant to access to the healthcare resources. The report also mentioned that maintenance of good health can only happen through utilization of proper healthcare resources, and this can prove to be costly. Hence, certain sections of the society will find it to be unaffordable to certain populations (Musterd & De Winter, 1998).
There could be healthcare disparities due to physical limitation of the healthcare resources, which in turn results into health inequities. Some of the individuals from the families will not be able to travel long distances, in order to get better healthcare services. For example, in U.S., nearly about 12-14% of the population is unable to access the healthcare services, due to unavailability of healthcare services in their local regions (Morris, Sutton, & Gravelle, 2005).
There had been huge disparities observed in the health as well as in the access to the healthcare services in the United States amongst the different races. This is a serious social health issue, as the racially centered disparities are continuing to exist even today. The disparities in the adequate healthcare include the differences in the quality of care based on the race. Even, the Journal of the American Medical Association has mentioned that, it is due to the racial differences that certain groups of people are still not able to receive quality and desired healthcare services. It has been found that, the Hispanic children are receiving three times less routine healthcare than the white children.
As per one of the research reports of the Medical Association, about 30% of the Hispanic patients, and about 20% of the African Americans are not receiving regular routine healthcare. The ethnic minorities are also having less insurance coverage than the white Americans, and as a result they are receiving less medical care. There was a study conducted in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine that mentioned that disparities cannot be solely accounted in terms of demographic characteristics such as household income, insurance status, age, geographic location, and quality of living conditions. If one tries to work upon these factors, there will be still disparity observed in the access to the healthcare services.
In the rural areas there is even scarcity of providers, due to which the access to the medical care gets limited. Another important disparity factor identified is the health literacy. People from the rural areas, or even people from the city areas lacking in education, will not be able to understand the basics of health information. They will even not know when to seek for medical help and where to seek for the desired medical help. Such problems are observed amongst all the communities due to the educational and socioeconomic factors. The disparity is also observed due to lack of diversity in the healthcare workforce.
As per the research studies, United States spends considerable amount of money on the healthcare, but they fall well below the other countries in various health metrics. This suggests two important points: (1) there were several reforms proposed for the betterment of the healthcare system, but rarely have they been implemented. (2) The spending has been inefficient, due to which, output results are less than expected. But, in 2010, a breakthrough reform was passed implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.
PPACA includes the Center for Medicare which will be working upon different researches in the field of medicine through pilot projects. And, if found successful, they would be undertaken to get it implement for the entire population. In one of the studies in 2011, it was found that there were approximately 312 million people lacking insurance. In addition, the Baby Boomers are reaching their retirement, due to which, there will be significant increase in the healthcare costs per person. This will place more burdens on the U.S. government. Even, the number of employers who were offering the health insurance to their respective employees has declined. Instead, the premiums for the coverage have increased to a remarkable extent. By implementing the reforms, the healthcare or rather the Obamacare, will provide affordable and quality health care to all the Americans. This will also reduce the healthcare spending burden on the government.
The local and the State governments are implementing healthcare policies that will increase the focus on quality healthcare services. The local agencies are already providing medicines and other necessary drugs at discounted prices. The Federal government, however, is addressing issues such as uncertainty, wasteful spending, unfair means, and unequal distribution of healthcare services for removing such disparities. They want to provide state-of-art medical facilities so that they can improve the health outcomes of all the people of U.S.
Kawachi, I., Subramanian, S., and Almeida-Filho, N. (2002). A glossary for health inequalities. Journal of Epidemiol Community Health, 56, 647-652.
Morris, S., Sutton, M., and Gravelle, H. (2005). Inequity and inequality in the use of health care in England: an empirical investigation. Social Science & Medicine, 60(6), 1251-1266.
Musterd, S., and De Winter, M. (1998). Conditions for spatial segregation: Some European perspectives. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 22(4), 665-673.