My Thoughts About Healthcare Inequalities and The Need for Continuing Reform
In the US’s current times, the surge in Covid-19 Pandemic, the healthcare inequalities have been exposed, and effects felt across the spectrum. Healthcare inequality exists when a certain ethnic, racial, age, gender, or economic group has better chances of accessing quality healthcare than other groups. In America, researchers have established that higher-income people have better health status than the lower-income population. This is supported by the Harvard forum discussion, where it has been found that the healthcare system heavily relies on private insurance coverage to provide healthcare. This means that to access quality healthcare, one must have the means to acquire a good insurance policy. The private firms’ insurance policies are expensive, meaning that the lower-income will continue being marginalized on matters accessing quality healthcare.
According to Professor Blendon in the Harvard Forum Discussion, the research confirmed that 21% of low-income people could not get the healthcare they needed comparing to just 12% of other incomes. The frustrations the low-income people receive when seeking healthcare has forced them to use emergency rooms because they could not get a place at their time of need to go for help. Though 48% of the low-income people use Emergency rooms to get the healthcare they need, 39% say that the care they get in them is fair or poor compared to 21% of other incomes.
The findings above show that, healthcare inequalities exist because of the structural issues in people’s communities. This is why continued reform of the healthcare policies and access to quality care is important to remove the systematic marginalization of healthcare provision to low-income communities and ethnic or racial establishments. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has effectively helped reduce these healthcare inequalities such as affordability of the insurance policies, reduced mortality rates, access to preventative care, and better treatment options like the diagnosis of chronic diseases that exist in low-income groups. In the past, only the rich and middle class could afford insurance coverage. That created healthcare inequalities as with no insurance policy, the low-income people would not be able to access healthcare or get poor care (Graham, 2017).
According to Mason (2016), the government is under immense pressure to work on the widening gap between the poor and the rich. The widening gap is dragging back the strides that the ACA has achieved. This can be witnessed by the Harvard Forum discussion where Katherine Hempstead noted that, even with ACA’s subsidies on insurance to access proper healthcare, some people could not afford it. They have extremely low savings due to low incomes and big consumer debt. To decrease the health inequality brought about by low- income government during the Obama Administration, they increased the minimum hourly wage of government contractors to US $10.05. The Biden Administration has expanded it to the US $15 to cushion the population from the pandemic and spark healthcare access.
Although the ACA promises great medical access, it has faced political interference as most politicians and media analysts forget that it is not prudent when analyzing healthcare issues when they are directly compared to budgetary allocations or the fiscal health of the nation. This is because this will mask underlying problems in healthcare and reduced budgetary budgets. Thereby, there is the need to continue reforming the healthcare policies to address inequalities that make healthcare access a burden. As per the projections given by researchers, by the next decade, most government spending will be on caring for the rich old adults who are politically powerful and informed. This should sound as an alarm to make a turnaround and reform on government spending as this kind of spending will keep the healthcare inequalities glued to the health system. The government also should continue their reforms on spending more on the community health centers as they have proved effective in reducing healthcare inequalities by addressing the needs of the specific community they are in and served for long. They also offer urgent care at affordable rates.
Lastly, healthcare disparities brought about by race, and the administration can tackle ethnic composition through continued education and training of the clinicians, nurses, and other care providers (Emma, 2019).
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