Thursday, September 12, 2019

What You Should Know About Racial Health Disparities Now

                    Despite efforts to provide universal healthcare for all Americans, racial health disparities unfortunately still persist. Many studies have tried to bring the causes into focus but little has been done to close the gap significantly. The high cost of insurance, the higher cost of healthcare and the lack of resources to the poor or uninsured are all contributors to the widening health gap between Caucasians and Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians.

Access to Healthcare

Over half of all uninsured Americans, excluding the elderly, are people of color. Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, and American Indians and Alaska Natives have a harder time getting health care as compared to Whites. Ethnic minorities also tend not to seek preventive care, leading to higher mortality rates among races who are more prone to high blood pressure and diabetes. Between 1990 and 2005, mortality rates between black and white increased even though overall mortality rates decreased for heart disease, breast cancer and stroke. The difference is thought to be a combination of factors that are endemic to policies that fail to focus on race and inequality.

Systemic Racism

In the late 1990s, David R. Williams, Ph.D., MPH was asked to serve on a committee of The Institute of Medicine. Conclusions from their studies, scientifically proved the existence of implicit bias, meaning that unconscious discrimination affects how people are treated. This can happen with the best of intentions as it is so ingrained as to be subconscious. When all people are not treated equally it can prevent whole groups of the most at risk from having opportunities that put them in a position of greater income, better benefits and cleaner, safer living conditions.


The racial breakdown of families, as indicated by the 2016 census, shows that Native Americans, Blacks, and Hispanics each double the percentage of Caucasians living below the poverty line. People living in poverty don't have the resources to get healthcare, preventing them from basic care and treatment afforded to those of more substantial means and covered by health insurance policies.

Much is left to do to try to eradicate the additional health risks and reduced opportunities for healthcare to people of color. Whether it is placing more quality healthcare in areas that are underserved, increasing education, providing low-cost healthcare insurance coverage options or a combination of all, there has to be a solution. Failing to focus on the disparity seemingly only leads to a perpetuation of it.