Racial discrimination remains an ongoing experience for a minority group in the America, despite the enactment of the civil right act that declared the racial discrimination illegal. Not only is the perception of racial bias damaging socially, but also new evidence indicates that the experience of racism may be detrimental to health care in the America. Currently, the racial groups are constructed to demonstrate the diversity in status, power, and resources. Racial classification is mainly experienced within the US context, African-American have been on the bottom while whites remain on top. Racism is reflected via the idea that inferiority is used to defend the unequal treatment of the minority group seen in various societal institutions. This construct of racism, promote the understandings of racial inequalities in the health care in the US because the idea of inferiority lead to preconceived attitudes and beliefs toward African-American group. Therefore, the paper will evaluate the consequences of racism against African American in healthcare, and focus on ways of alleviating the racism in these societal institutions.
Racism against African American in healthcare in US is demonstrated in various ways. Research indicates that there is a significant difference in access to medical care for the majority and minority ethnic groups. This is mainly because the organizational of the health services is attributed to the most dominant race in US. Access to care and benefits often discriminates against ethnic minority patients. Within Medicare, there are significant differences between the African-American and the whites. American health care spends more annually per white Medicare recipient than is spent per African-American recipient. Meanwhile, the whole system makes care more difficult for African-American to access. There are fewer doctors and hospitals in African-American neighborhoods compared to white neighborhoods. Likewise, African-Americans are less likely to have major care physician than whites. African –Americans are more likely to be uninsured, compared to whites, and most of the employed African Americans do not have health insurance provided by their jobs. In general, there is demonstrable racism against African American in healthcare in the US (Darmon and Drewnowski, 2008).
Despite the civil right act, African Americans have experienced the consequences and fights of discrimination and racial inferiority in their life. Healthcare is a field where several African Americans have experienced racism and suffered the damaging health effects and consequences of this racism. This is so because racism has been seen as the mechanism that explains and expound racial disparities in health system in the US. This is demonstrated via lack of sufficient education and economic resources as well as lack of care and negligible treatment of disease. The research done on racial discrimination in health care in America indicate that African Americans have a higher disease rate compared to whites. For instance, maltreatment in healthcare has made the HIV rate increase among African American while it remains consistent in the white population (Darmon and Drewnowski, 2008). This significant unequal distribution of adverse medical conditions and outcomes among African Americans and whites is rooted in historical, economic, sociocultural, geographic, and political context in America. These factors have contributed greatly to the health disparities in America.
The racism has led to socioeconomic status, which indicate the social standing of an individual based on their income, education, and occupational status. It is believed that individuals with lower socioeconomic status faces difficulties in accessing health care and preventative services. This is challenging for African American who is poor because it is hard for them to access health insurance plans. Although a high proportion of the African American suffers from various health disorders, which require therapy that are not covered under most health programs in the US (Gee, 2002).
Socioeconomic status predicts variation in health care within African American and white populations is responsible for significant racial differences. Research indicates that most African Americans are poor compared whites, which frustrate their efforts of accessing quality medical care (Gee, 2002). This is a vast disparity between these racial groups. It also indicates that people living at lower economic levels have greater chances of morbidity and mortality rate and have greater chances to be diagnosed with mental disorders than those living in the upper socioeconomic status.
Racism not only affect the health care of African Americans indirectly, but also it is directly experienced within the actual field of medicine in parental care and interaction. Racial disparity in health care is reflected in the workers who have preconceived beliefs and expectations of a patient based on socioeconomic status, race, and education level before proving the patient with an equal chance. These discriminating beliefs lend workers to unequal treatment and an unwillingness to treat African American patients. The research indicates that African American is less likely to be informed about transplant options, given any medical information regarding transplants and be engaged in discussion about receiving any transplant such as kidneys. This discrimination happens because of the preconceived idea that African American is less likely to care about their health procedures, follow the instructions and orders following treatment (Kelley, 2008). Therefore, African Americans not only are affected by different illness disproportionately to whites, but also suffer direct racism in health care based on the number of procedures received.
Likewise, the incapacity of African American to receive effective health care is an issue attributed to the racial segregation programs. Although segregation laws regarding public facilities and housing are illegal, the structure and the consequences have remained integral. Therefore, the individual’s socioeconomic status will influence the residential area, educational resource and community benefits. Therefore, the residential concentration of African Americans has led to inequalities in neighborhoods, socioeconomic status, and quality of medical care they receive. This is so because the institutionalized racism and segregation within income levels has an indirect impact on health care of African Americans and attitude towards healthcare workers who are African American (Gee, 2002). The African American workers get fewer roles because of preconceived beliefs that based on socioeconomic status, race, and education level. Therefore, the consequences of racism against African American in health care have affected their life significantly.
Where a racism exists, such disparities discussed above are extremely common. The true institutional nature of the racism come from disparities that exist and significant widespread action to close the gap. Therefore, it is vital to employ a significant action to resolve the racism that is inherent in the laws governing health care and the attitudes of healthcare workers. This is so because a proportion of the healthcare workers tend to discriminate against African Americans. Thus, proper mechanism should be employed to increase the access and quality of care that African Americans are given. The government should improve access to mental and behavioral health care programs by reducing barriers such as limitations in health care coverage intervene in early childhood to support educational and health development of low socioeconomic status individuals (Real Clear Politics, 2013).
Similarly, in order to alleviate racism US government should make a moral and political commitment to assure equal access to medical care to all citizens as a major right of American citizenship. The strategy ensures all citizens no matter their race receives health care and by eliminating financial barriers, the health of African American would improve their socioeconomic status and dignity. Therefore, physicians would attend to the African American with more respect and dignity.
The cultural competence can be used to address the racism in health care in America. This is so because it boosts the ability to understand the significance of the social and cultural influence on how patients perceive health care. This strategy can be used to guarantee equal treatment of all patients. By implementing cultural competence, the racial disparities in healthcare can be eliminated by those who work in the field. This can be done via addressing structural, clinical divisions and organization of cultural competence. This will promote the employment of African American health care providers and increasing provider education across cultural and racial issues (Betancourt, Green, Carrillo, and Ananeh-Firempong, 2003). Likewise, improvement and implementation of new health policies can be used to alleviate racism against African American health care. It is vital to have policies that directly influence health disparities and enhance equal access to health care for all citizens.
In a recap, racism tends to interfere with the equal access of health care in the United States. Racism against African American health care is reflected via socioeconomic status, resources, and educational level among others. Racism reduces the African American satisfaction of quality services and dignity. Therefore, proper action should be implemented to reduce discrimination against African American health care.
Betancourt, J. R., Green, R. A., Carrillo, J. E., & Ananeh-Firempong, O. (2003). Defining Cultural Competence: A Practical Framework for Addressing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health and Health Care. Public Health Reports, 118, 293-299.
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Gee, G. C. (2002). A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship between Institutional and Individual Racial Discrimination and Health Status. American Journal of Public Health, 92(4), 615-621.
Kelley, R. (2008, April 10). What's Race Got To Do With It?. Newsweek, Retrieved from
Real Clear Politics (2013, July 20). Bill Maher on Racism: "Open Your Eyes White America, It Is So Not Over" | RealClearPolitics [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/07/20/bill_maher_on_racism_open_your_ey es_white_america_it_is_so_not_over_.html