The problem of inequity in health care provision is particularly acute since it creates a barrier to the continual improvement of health care services. Despite numerous reforms and strategy updates, there is still a large list of vulnerable groups that experience difficulties accessing medical services. The paper at hand aims to provide specific examples that involve the inequity of health care providers to the elderly population.
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The inequity in health care provision is a critical problem that needs to be addressed at all levels including social and federal. Starfield (2011) describes inequity as “the presence of systematic and potentially remediable differences among population groups” (p. 1). He likewise points out the importance of distinguishing between the notions of “inequity” and “inequality.” According to the author, the former term is more specific implying equal access to resources either within one population or between different social groups. Practice shows that certain populations such as immigrants, prisoners, mentally ill, and others tend to be particularly vulnerable to facing healthcare inequity. Otherwise stated, these groups are more frequently deprived of the chance to receive proper services promptly.
This paper will focus on those cases of inequity that are associated with elderly people and their relations with the health care sector. It is assumed that this group is particularly exposed to inequity due to the low social inclusion of elderly people that prevents them from examining and asserting their rights in an active manner.
Description of a Situation Involving Inequalities for Vulnerable Population
To support the thesis that elderly people are especially exposed to inequity treatment in the frame of health care, I would like to describe a situation I have recently observed. My elderly neighbor was diagnosed to have diabetes of type two. The woman was prescribed to take the relevant medicine, to shift to healthy eating, and to lead a more active lifestyle. Since she had difficulty accessing the nearest health care center, a nurse was made responsible for performing regular home visits and helping the woman to impede the treatment process. It is essential to note that my neighbor has a low awareness of the due health care provision format and, thus, she is not likely to make any complaints about the service she receives. As soon as the nurse realized this fact, her visits became less frequent and their duration reduced significantly. It is, therefore, evident, that the nurse would take advantage of the client’s age, and exhibit conduct she would never show in case the client had a clearer understanding of the service she was supposed to receive.
This type of inequity can be described as horizontal. In other words, elderly people are supposed to be provided with the same health care services as other populations, though they fail to receive them since they are less persistent in asserting their rights (Starfield, 2011). This inequity has critical consequences – according to recent research, it leads to the growth of clients’ distrust in health care institutions. As a result, elderly people tend to avoid addressing them whenever possible ignoring their illnesses and diseases (Yamada, 2015).
Description of the Inequity That Was Unfair
Another example I would like to describe refers to the vertical type of inequity. Otherwise stated, it illustrates how people with special needs fail to receive the relevant services (Starfield, 2011). As such, one of my acquaintances had difficulty visiting a health care center to receive the prescribed injections so that a responsible nurse was appointed to provide the woman with the relevant service. In the meantime, due to the policy changes, the health care center would soon tell the woman that home visits were then available only for those elderly people that were physically incapable of attending the center. From a legal perspective, my acquaintance had no documents evidencing her physical inability to be present at the center for injections. To receive the essential evidence, she needed to visit a large scope of institutions which was impossible in her condition.
The described example illustrates the unfair attitude the health care community showed towards elderly people. As such, health care providers refused to attend to the special needs of this population obliging elderly people to comply with the set regulations. Unfortunately, research reveals that this type of unfair treatment is frequently met which means that a large scope of elderly people experience difficulties accessing the healthcare services they are entitled to receive on a legal basis (Crespo-Cebadaa & Urbanos-Garrido, 2011).
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When discussing the problem of vulnerable populations, one, first and foremost, refers to such groups as immigrants, prisoners, etc. In the meantime, practice shows that elderly people are likewise exposed to experiencing unequal treatment in terms of healthcare provision. The examples described in this paper illustrate not only the unfair conduct of the healthcare providers but their unprofessional and unethical attitude to their job. Therefore, it is vital to address the problem at all levels to eliminate the existing inequity which is inadmissible in an advanced society.
Crespo-Cebadaa, E., & Urbanos-Garrido, R. M. (2011). Equity and equality in the use of GP services for elderly people: The Spanish case. Health Policy, 10(1), 1-7.
Starfield, B. (2011). The hidden inequity in health care. International Journal for Equity in Health, 10(15), 1-6.
Yamada, T., Chen, C. C., Murata, C., Hirai, H., Ojima, T., Kondo, K., & Harris, J. (2015). Access disparity and health inequality of the elderly: Unmet needs and delayed healthcare. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(2), 1745-1772.