Health disparity is defined as a scenario whereby one group experiences a higher burden of disability, injury, morbidity, or mortality compared to another. A health care disparity is a scenario whereby one group of the population has better access to and use of care, insurance coverage, and quality of care compared to another group in the population (Artiga & Pham, 2020). Disparities in health and health care result in the deterioration of the well-being of the whole population and significant economic losses.
Race-related and socio-economical health disparities affect the health of these groups in various ways. For example, some of the underprivileged racial subgroups have higher mortality rates due to heart disease compared to the privileged racial subgroups. Some other disadvantaged racial sub-groups have higher mortality rates due to diabetes and higher infant mortality rates than the advantaged racial subgroups. Life expectancy is short in Black males in contrast to males of other racial groups (Artiga, 2020). People of low income among all races have poor health status compared to those of high income.
Disparities in health and health care affect health promotion and preventive care. The groups of the population discriminated due to their race, social class, sexual orientation, or environment do not get access to health promotion services and preventive care (Artiga & Pham, 2020). The lack of access to these services is the absence of funding to the community health centers and deficiency of cultural, language, and racial diversity among healthcare workers providing the services.
Our country’s healthcare system is affected by these disparities in that they lead to remarkably high medical costs running into billions of dollars. The money lost due to the excess medical costs could be put to better use, such as health promotion and preventive care (Artiga & Pham, 2020). Health disparities in my community can be reduced by setting up well-funded community health centers that will significantly enhance coverage and care to disadvantaged groups. The setting up of offices that aim to reduce disparities in the health of the minority in the community will also be of great importance.
The promotion of the diversity of the health workforce and increasing funding for the training of health professionals in cultural competence are the other ways of reducing health disparities in my community. Moreover, this can also be done by enhancing the collection of data for research purposes and stepping up efforts to increase funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Legislation can also play a significant role in the enaction of laws that govern insurance coverage among the minority groups in the population and ensure the implementation of the rules (Artiga & Pham, 2020). Finally, the engagement of private organizations and local communities in reducing health disparities can also go a long way in creating a solution to the issue at hand.
The self-reflection performed in this course can make me a more empathetic future health professional by making me aware that the population in our country is diverse. Therefore as the population becomes more diverse with time, it is vital that disparities in health are addressed. The gaps in the income of individuals in the population are vast, and this creates social classes of those with high income and those with low income.
I am now aware that I will come across patients with low socioeconomic status in my future practice as a healthcare provider. I will be able to understand their experiences of inability to access health care coverage as a result of the high insurance premiums which they cannot afford. This knowledge will enable me to show empathy to patients from the discriminated groups of the population without bonding with them and give them the standard of care that is of high quality.
Artiga S, Orgera K, & Pham O. (2020). Disparities in Health and Health Care: Five Key Questions and Answers. KFF. Web.