Racial Disparities in the United States Health Care System

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Racial disparities in The United States health care system are widespread and well documented. Social and economic inequalities between racial minorities and their white counter parts have lead to lower life expectancy rates, higher infant mortality rates, and overall poorer health for people of color. As the nation’s population continues to become increasingly diverse, these disparities are likely to grow if left unaddressed. The Affordable Care Act includes various provisions that specifically aim to reduce inequalities for racially and ethnically marginalized groups. These include provisions in the Senate bill and House bill that aim to expand coverage, boost outreach and education programs, establish standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate practices, and diversify the health care workforce. The ACA, while not a perfect solution for eliminating health disparities, serves as an important first step and an unprecedented opportunity to improve health equity in the United States. Provisions to expand Medicaid are central to legislation aiming to eliminate racial inequities. Minorities make up about one-third of the population, but account for over half of the total 47 million uninsured. This is a reflection of racialized economic structures that leave many minorities unable to afford insurance or access employer-based coverage. The ACA attempts to decrease the rate of uninsured for low-income individuals and families by expanding Medicaid to adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Although this provision will help to expand coverage to some of the nations poorest individuals, the Supreme Court’s Decision to leave the choice to expand up to the states has a serious impact on the b... ... middle of paper ... ...ity, as well as inequalities in education, employment, and housing, all contribute to health discrepencies. Health care reform, as envisioned within the ACA, should be viewed as treatment of the symptoms of an unequal system, not treatment of the cause. To speak metaphorically, America has a pre-existing condition of institutional racism. Capitalist structure, political climate and discourse, and notions of imperialism, deny treatment. The Affordable Care Act addresses this condition as a localized disease, rather than a systemic one, that’s cause is rooted in the hegemonic reproduction of ideological superstructures. Only when health care is treated as a basic right, rather than an economic commodity, and health disparites are recognized in a greater political context, can health reform offer an opportunity to overcome racial disparities and achieve health equity.

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