How Disparities in the Healthcare System Exasperate the Wealth and Health Gap

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The healthcare system in the United States is not a terrible one, but it admittedly could be a whole lot better. On average, patients are getting sicker, they’re getting younger, and their outcomes are getting worse. This is not the fault of the dedicated nurses, doctors, and support staff who care for them, but it is reflective of society at large.

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The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. for black women is abhorrent, and the medical field is only becoming slightly aware of the serious problem that this presents to the country at large. People are simply becoming aware of problems that have been present for decades, and it is alarming to the public that something hasn’t been done sooner. Disparities in the healthcare system are having an impact on more than just the health of under presented communities – it is effectively preventing them from advancing financially, too.

Disparities in Race Don’t Occur in a Vacuum
In a fair and equal world, the things that happen to a person in their childhood won’t really have that much of an effect on their future. For example, if you skin your knee while riding a bike as a kid, you wouldn’t normally expect to continue to have issues with infections into adulthood. Except, people do not live or function in a fair and equal world. The obstacles and hindrances that might impact a Latino child might follow them well into adulthood, particularly if they belong to an immigrant family. The fact of the matter is that racial disparities don’t just happen inside of a vacuum – they are all-encompassing.

How Good Health Leads to Growing Wealth
A person who feels good and has all their faculties are going to be able to work a lot harder and longer than a person with a chronic or reoccurring health issue. This is not a new concept, and yet finance experts are just starting to truly understand this reality. People who live in lower-income areas don’t get the best level of medical care. They don’t go to the doctor as often, and they avoid going to the hospital because they are afraid of racking up big bills. Many will suffer in silence, or else, try to diagnose and treat themselves. When a group of people fails to get proper preventative care, they end up getting sicker, and it also becomes more expensive to treat them in the long run. It is more financially feasible to promote good health, and this leads to better and more stable futures.

What Happens When Basic Necessities Aren’t Guaranteed
Childhood is the best time to address racial disparities in every aspect, especially in healthcare. Pregnant mothers who get adequate healthcare generally give birth to healthier babies. If those babies are then seen by a pediatrician, given inoculations, and monitored so that they grow healthily, they can grow up to become stronger individuals. But what happens when those basic necessities can’t or aren’t provided? You end up with an entire neighborhood of depressed, disgruntled, and downtrodden people. For children growing up viewing the world through this type of lens, it can be very hard to break the cycle and show these kids that there is another way.

Options in Healthcare for Minorities
There are many types of jobs that are typically dominated by underrepresented communities. In low-income areas, you will find no shortage of Latino, Black, and Southeast Asian home health aides and CNAs. While this is a perfectly respectable profession, CNAs and home health aides don’t write out prescriptions. In order to help alleviate these racial disparities in the healthcare system, more minorities are going to have to train to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, go to medical school, or become a radiologist. There have to be more underrepresented people who get into oncology and nephrology to help bring down the mortality rates of minorities. This is a task that is easier said than done, as there are several different things that are preventing this. One is that it is expensive to go to school to become a doctor. Another factor is that it can simply be harder for minorities to attend medical schools, particularly if they are interested in completing a program that requires them to relocate. Sometimes, it can be more practical for low income, minority, and underrepresented communities to finish their healthcare field educations in a non-traditional manner.

What is Actually Being Done?
There has been a lot of talk, a lot of debate and disagreement about how to solve disparities both in the healthcare system as well as within the medical field itself. In general, minorities have trouble getting the same level of care as non-minorities because of location, lack of sensitivity training, and unaddressed and hidden social biases. What is being done now is that schools are pushing more minorities to go into the healthcare field, so that patients are better represented. There has been a big push for STEM in lower-income areas. Medical schools have also become more open to the idea of sponsoring specialized scholarships for the benefit of minority and underrepresented communities.

As much as generations have worked to provide all children with similar opportunities, some differences are going to remain. A child growing up in NYC is going to be more familiar with the subway than a farm setting. Children growing up as first-generation immigrants are likely going to speak a different language at home than in public, versus children who are only fluent in English. Sometimes, differences are a good thing that should never be viewed as being a hindrance. On the other hand, there should not be a mismatch in the level of opportunities that children have growing up. Not one child should grow up worrying about having enough food to eat or know that they are doomed to stay in cyclical poverty. Hopefully, erasing the disparities in the healthcare system that exist in the U.S. will help children to grow up with the same types of opportunities once and for all.

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Summary
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How Disparities in the Healthcare System Exasperate the Wealth and Health Gap
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The healthcare system in the United States is not a terrible one, but it admittedly could be a whole lot better. On average, patients are getting sicker, they're getting younger, and their outcomes are getting worse.
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