National healthcare system faces a lot of challenges in struggling for benefits of their clients and total content of the society. Social imparity is one of the most serious matters being under consideration at the moment. Research shows that there are different reasons of gaps between health care services provided for different groups of population.
First, racial and ethnic minorities really suffer from such imparity as they are often restricted in access to adequate services; receive less attention and worse treatment on the whole. Thus, they also have worse health outcomes. It has been documented that African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have higher risks of chronic diseases, cancer incidence 25% and diabetes 50% higher than among the whites; experience higher rates of mortality and are much more often the victims of AIDS (Kjellstrand, 1988). Many providers are accused of discrimination when the representatives of minorities are treated not in the way the whites are. Habib notes that “According to the 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report, uninsured Americans are less likely to receive preventive services in health care”¯ (Habib, 2010).
Secondly, the decisive matter is age. The warning information is that children often don’t receive the necessary assistance. About 33% of all the prescribed drugs are intended for the seniors (on average 38 prescriptions per year) who make up only 13% of population (Goldberg et al., 2004). Technical literacy is also a factor contributing to a gap.
Further, there is also a gender link in the question of correlation between national healthcare and social equity. It is interesting to know that in the USA women receive better access to healthcare. The main reason is that women care more about their insurances as they also report to be more under risk of different diseases and tend to choose those jobs where they can receive insurances. Besides, women are more likely to receive assistance from government, especially for women with children.
Nevertheless, the greatest factor to explain healthcare inequity is individual’s socioeconomic status. The lower the socioeconomic status, the lower is the overall access to treatment and state of health (Yergan et al., 1987). So, there are different documented reasons for social inequality in reference to healthcare services. The list begins with insurance coverage which is needed to receive proper care and treatment but is often lacked by people with low incomes. With lack of insurance coverage they postpone care or cannot buy medicines as they cannot receive prescriptions. This factor is followed by restricted access to a regular source of medical care. It is better to have a systematic approach to healthcare and to have regular visits to family physician, for instance, but many people cannot afford it (Mayer et al., 1989). It is natural that with lower incomes patients often lack analysis which require tests on expensive equipment and further cannot afford proper treatment.
Furthermore, living in regions where there is worse access to medical help, problems with transport and other infrastructure, then long queues make up structural barriers and keep many people from applying to the healthcare facilities at all. In some rural areas and ghettos there is a serious problem of scarcity of specialists and healthcare providers on the whole (Oberman & Cutter, 1984).
In addition, minorities face legal problems as immigrants living in the States less than 5 years cannot apply for Medicaid insurance (Gaskin et al., 2008). In the financing system of health care there are also certain limitations for the minorities. Language barriers are hereby as well. The matter is, miscommunication and misunderstanding can lead to wrong diagnosis, incorrect prescriptions and failure in using proper medications. Miscommunication can also arise from the differences between culture, religion, family traditions and hierarchies, that is why lack of cultural diversity in medical facilities is worrying too. Added to socioeconomic and educational limitations, these barriers result in total lack of health literacy. Many people, and minorities in front of all, simple do not know when to worry and when to obtain care, as they are not acquainted with dangerous factors and symptoms of even the most wide-spread diseases.
The good news is that the results of multiple researches are taken to consideration and there are programs introduced to eliminate the existing gap in healthcare services. The requirements are gradually to be fulfilled. Consistent collection of data on how racial and ethnic minorities are treated should be gathered and effectively evaluated; health services should develop more linguistic and cultural competency in order to provide enough understanding to the representatives of minorities and to avoid miscommunication (Habib 2010). It would be better to give more working places to the representatives of different minorities to provide diversity within healthcare facilities. Then, government offices are to enhance minority health locally and the total access to facilities should be expended and special training for health care professionals to be able to work with interpreters and the minor groups. Finally, all the elements of health care system should be involved in improving the access to proper services and establishing social equity. Responsible for the introduction of these steps are a number of organizations like the Commonwealth Fund, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Gaskin, Darrell J., Spencer, Christine S., Richard, Patrick Gerard F., Powe, Neil R. & LaVeist, Thomas A. (2008). Do Hospitals Provide Lower-Quality Care To Minorities Than To Whites? Health Affairs, 45 (7), 130-104.
Goldberg, J., Hayes, W., & Huntley, J. (2004). Understanding Health Disparities. Health Policy Institute of Ohio.
Habib, J. L. (2010). Progress lags in infection prevention and health disparities. Drug Benefit Trends, 22(4), 112.
Kjellstrand C. (1988). Age, sex, and race inequality in renal transplantation. Arch Intern Med., 148, 1305”“1309.
Mayer, W., McWhorter, W. P. (1989). Black/white differences in non-treatment of bladder cancer patients and implications for survival. Am J Public Health, 79, 772”“774.
Oberman, A. & Cutter, G. (1984). Issues in the natural history and treatment of coronary heart disease in black populations: surgical treatment. Am Heart J., 108, 688”“694.
Yergan, J., Flood, A. B., LoGerfo, J. P. & Diehr, P. (1987). Relationship between patient race and the intensity of hospital services. Med Care, 25, 592”“603.