The coronavirus and global pandemic of 2021 brought attention to health inequity. More people of color died from COVID-19 than any other group which highlights the lack of health equity in our country.
What is health equity?
Health equity is when everyone has the chance to reach their full health potential without obstacles from social position or socially determined circumstances. This includes equitable (fair) access to healthcare professionals, healthy food, a safe living environment, and the ability to be well across all aspects of life, from work to home life to medical care.
What factors affect health equity?
Socioeconomic status. Healthcare in the U.S. is expensive for the cost of care, for insurance, medications, doctor visits, and other items associated with taking care of your health.
Lack of insurance or underinsurance. More than any other country, the U.S. ties healthcare insurance to employment with more than 175 million people gaining coverage through work. For many who lack employment or work for employers who do not provide healthcare, health insurance is too expensive. In some cases, people with insurance my have a deductible that is so expensive, they cannot use the insurance. is so high that they are unable to use the insurance in any meaningful way. As the costs associated with having insurance increase, fewer people will be able to afford consistent access to medical care. Learn more about insurance and affording medical treatment here.
Race and ethnicity. Systemic racism exists in our current healthcare system. Studies show that race and ethnicity impact the type and of healthcare a person receives. Bias in healthcare professionals, among other things. Historically, people of color were not equally included in clinical trials, which affects treatment and standards of care even today. One way to resolve this has been an increase in cultural humility training, which encourages healthcare professionals to develop more honest, trustworthy, and culturally sensitive relationships with the people they help.
Age. With the natural aging process, medical professionals may assume a patient’s health condition is a result of aging, instead of looking for a different explanation based on symptoms.
Geographic region. Surveys indicate that more healthcare professionals live in and around cities. Healthcare in rural regions is nearly impossible to get.