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For many decades, the most pertinent problem in America has been the absence of a universal healthcare program that ensures affordable medical attention to all citizens. The term healthcare disparities connote the lack of equal access to healthcare and Medicare facilities to all people. Healthcare disparities also refer to the quality and access to healthcare services that exist across all racial and ethnic populations. According to Williams (2011) the main cause of healthcare disparities is the lack of efficiency within any healthcare system, which leads to unnecessary costs for the government and healthcare providers.
The most fundamental reason why healthcare disparities exist is related to the issue of income levels. Research has shown that income levels have a direct relationship with the quality of healthcare that an individual can access. For instance, low income earners and poor people are more likely to suffer from a variety of diseases. This is because they are constrained and lack enough money to help them access quality healthcare. As a result, the minorities and poor people tend to experience high mortality rates, as opposed to the rich and wealthy citizens who have comprehensive medical covers (Williams, 2011).
Another significant reason why healthcare disparities exist is the high costs of medical covers and premiums. The ever increasing rise of in healthcare costs has made it difficult for minorities and low income earners to take up medical premiums. Besides, most employers are reluctant to provide medical covers for their staff, thus leaving them to fund their own medical expenses. Most of the healthcare providers have also not made the issue of healthcare any better as they charge exorbitant rates. As a result, healthcare disparities have continued to exist and persist due to the inability to afford health premiums.
Poverty, low education standards and living in low social economic environments have also been linked to healthcare disparities. According to Williams (2011) people who live within medically underserved communities such as the Hispanics, blacks and Asians tend to experience healthcare disparities. This is because there is lack of adequate healthcare facilities, drugs and enough medical staff to address their needs. Besides, people with low education standards end up in unemployment status, thus resulting into low income and eventual high poverty levels. As a result, they lack the capacity and funds to access quality healthcare thus perpetuating disparities.
In 2012, a report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the U.S. showed that blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Alaska Natives were the worst hit in terms of healthcare disparities. In comparison to the Whites and Native Americans, these groups of people experienced poor access to quality healthcare. This is attributed to the fact that most of these groups are non-resident immigrants or have low incomes, thus making it difficult for them to access quality healthcare (Krupa, 2012).
In 2003, an investigative report compiled by the National Health Care Disparities Report found that the minorities and non-resident immigrants had worse health related problems. The report found that these categories of people were receiving poor quality health care, mainly due to lack of medical insurance premiums and low income levels (U.S. department of health sciences, n.d).
Since the introduction of ObamaCare, the U.S. government has made tremendous strides in solving the disparities pertaining to healthcare. The health reforms under ObamaCare are based on the principle of “stability” and “security” for all Americans. ObamaCare strives to provide stability and security to all those who have health insurance. The policy also intends to lower costs of health care for families, business and government. Besides, it will provide health insurance for those for do not have any medical cover (www.healthcare.gov).
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Another way of resolving healthcare disparities is to ensure that the government steps in to regulate the number of healthcare providers. This will guarantee that private health providers do not charge exorbitant prices for insurance, but make it affordable for low income earners. Besides, the healthcare providers should be taxed and the money used to fund and equip public hospitals with required facilities. As a result, the minorities and poor people can access healthcare facilities at affordable rates.
Response to Classmates answers
First Student answer
I agree with the answer that poverty, living in low socioeconomic environments, low economic and income levels are significant determinants of healthcare disparities. This is because when a majority of people in squalor conditions and low poverty levels, they lack the socio-capacity to access quality healthcare. Furthermore, education plays a pivotal role in determining access to quality healthcare. When a nation has a high number of uneducated people, access to quality healthcare becomes extremely challenging because they lack the knowledge and financial ability to manage their health.
I also agree with the answer that, before looking at the quality of healthcare, it should first be made accessible by lowering the premiums and constructing many facilities. The health insurance provided by insurance should be comprehensive and focus on quality. Besides, I also agree that the government should take a leading role in enhancing access to quality health care, and ensuring that private providers are not exploitative.
Second Student answer
I agree with the second student’s answer that, healthcare disparities are caused by the different racial and ethnic families that live in the U.S. This is in relation to factors such as language barriers, low income families, poor living conditions and troubled neighborhoods all contribute towards healthcare disparities. I also agree with the answer that the quality of healthcare provided is a critical issue in the health system. Though access may be guaranteed, the quality of healthcare services needs to be improved both in public and private facilities.
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The four main components of quality healthcare as addressed by the second answer are extremely pertinent. These include coverage, focus, timeliness and workforce of the healthcare system is vital in addressing the issue of healthcare disparities. In addition to the government, I also agree that policy makers, the community and advocates need to resolve the disparities in access to healthcare facilities. There is a need to develop comprehensive healthcare policies, which will address health concerns of the minorities, marginalized, low income earners and all citizens.
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