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When considering the contrast between real treatment provided and better or optimal care, the disparity between normal and quality health care can best be defined as a disconnect for certain parts of the population, including ethnic and racial minority communities. There is a major difference between the standard of treatment offered by African Americans and Whites in the United States. There is substantial evidence that the United States lags behind most developing nations in a variety of important health initiatives. The underlying and basic explanation is that people of those ethnicities, races, and wages enjoy inferior modes of healthcare in the United States than other residents. Nonetheless, there is the need to understand that not all health differences emanate from inequity. There are various social determinants of disparities in access to quality healthcare, and they include racism, education, housing and poverty, access to healthy foods, violence, and also criminal justice.
In the year 2014, there were approximately 42.3 million African Americans, and this accounted for 13% of the population in the US (Noonan, Velasco-Mondragon and Wagner 4). About 55% of the African Americans live in the Southern States, with New York having the greatest number of blacks (3.8 million) and the highest percentages reported in Columbia and Mississippi (50.6% and 38.2% respectively) (Noonan, Velasco-Mondragon, and Wagner). With such a large number of African Americans, the topic of access to healthcare becomes significant, hence the need to be examined.
Purpose of the Research
The United States ranks second last in life expectancy for women and last for men as compared to the 17 wealthiest countries. Also, infant mortality in the country ranks last among the most developed nations in the world. Moreover, the US healthcare results dropped from 20th to 27th from the year 1990 to 2010 among the 34 most developed nations (2016 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report). The US scores dismally in several healthcare measures examined.
A nation like the US underperforming in such healthcare measures proves that there is a serious problem in the sector. Among the basic reason the US ranks so low in the world is that health services for particular ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups are so poor domestically. Latinos, African Americans as well as the economically disadvantaged have poorer access to healthcare and also lower quality care compared to white Americans. According to the 2016 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, access to healthcare remains a persisting problem with 35 percent of Latinos and low-income people reporting difficulties in getting the care they needed. The figures can be compared to 15 percent of medium and high-income earners and 25 percent of white Americans with the same difficulties (p. 20).
Even though the overall access to standard and adequate healthcare has over the past decade improved, the rate of betterment across the country has been slower for African Americans, low-income people, and Latinos (Benz, Espinosa and Welsh 1860). Disparities are evident in numerous health measures such as infant mortality rate, access to health insurance, life expectancy and also the occurrence of particular conditions such as hypertension, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes.
The research intends to address the problem of disparities in access to health care among African Americans and white Americans. In doing so, the research will answer various questions.
Why are there widespread disparities in access to health care among African Americans and white Americans?
What differences exist in the quality of treatment of common conditions among African Americans and white Americans?
How can the problem of inequalities in access to standard and quality healthcare be solved?
Significance of the Research
There is a challenge in achieving the best healthcare in the United States, especially with the deteriorating quality of care and the prevailing inequalities in access to care. For equity in health care access to be attained, there needs to be a thorough scrutiny of the inequalities in getting, using and also the outcome of healthcare (Mayberry, Nicewander and Qin 103). A significant aspect to understand at this juncture is that despite the wide disparities in access to standard health care among African Americans in comparison to white Americans, there still exists limited awareness of the social challenge. Examining the reasons behind the disparities, for instance, social determinants such as racism, poverty, violence, education, housing and access to healthy foods will ensure there is increased awareness of the challenge.
It is as well pertinent to acknowledge that awareness of these disparities is pertinent since it will act as the necessary first step towards the attainment of compelling action and behavior change (Benz, Espinosa and Welsh 1860). As further explained by Benz, Espinosa, and Welsh, public awareness of the disparities in access to healthcare will influence the measures taken by policymakers to address the problem. Also, such cognizance will help in determining if and how individuals, societies, and states respond to it. There is ample documentation of the disparities in healthcare access, but the general public remains unaware of the form and extent of the problem.
As has been pointed out earlier, the problem of healthcare access in the United States has caused the low-ranking of the country in relation to other developed nations. The increasing disparities in healthcare access in the United States have adverse implications for international politics. On the international level, nations are ranked after consideration of various measures, and among them are health measures or indicators. The disparities not only lead to lower life expectancy (due to increased illness and high rate of mortality) in the United States but also increased costs, i.e., the country suffers a loss of over $60 billion in productivity every year. Therefore, the research will seek to identify the underlying causes of disparities in access to quality care and further propose measures that will address the challenge.
In efforts to attain the objective of the research, there will be the utilization of appropriate methods. First, as a means to understand the concept of disparities in healthcare access, there will be a detailed review of literature pertaining to the same. The literature will revolve around the challenge of access to healthcare for African Americans and also the status of white Americans in relation to healthcare services received.
Due to the two ethnic groups addressed in the project, the research will utilize comparative analysis studies. The method is suitable for this project since it aims to make comparisons across the two cultures and their encounters in seeking healthcare services. In this method, there will be a secondary analysis of quantitative data pertaining to access to health services among African Americans and white Americans. Upon comparing the data, it will become feasible to describe the disparities in access to healthcare between the two cultures, and thus propose measures to address the challenge.
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2016 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. Research Report. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2017.
Benz, Jennifer K., Oscar Espinosa, Valerie Welsh, and Angela Fontes. "Awareness Of Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities Has Improved Only Modestly over a Decade." Health Affairs, vol. 30. no. 10, 2011, pp. 1860-1867.
Mayberry, Robert M., David A. Qin Nicewander, and Ballard J. David. "Improving quality and reducing inequities: A challenge in achieving best care." Proceedings (Baylor University Medical Center), vol. 19, no. 2, 2006, pp. 103–118.
Noonan, Allan S., Hector Eduardo Velasco-Mondragon and Fernando A. Wagner. "Improving the health of African Americans in the USA: an overdue opportunity for Social Justice." Public Health Reviews, vol. 37, no. 12, 2016, pp. 1-20.
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