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Racial Disparities Within US Healthcare System

Healthcare remains one of the vital industries, serving as a determinant of a well-developed, functioning society. All elements of this system are engaged in providing their respective communities with better standards of care. In a way, the system is a reflection of this society and the context, in which its major flaws are highlighted. Racial inequality is one of such problems that have permeated the United States on personal and institutional levels, acquiring a systemic relevance. After an abundant history of injustice, today’s communities make meaningful efforts aimed at reconciliation and amending the situation. Nevertheless, the residual disparities persist in different settings, and healthcare is not an exception. In light of the prominent notion of social determinants of health, the matters of race become highlighted and associated with major healthcare-related disparities.

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By the 21st century, American society has come to realize the detrimental nature of discrimination, which led to the promotion of positive values that support equality in all spheres. This new tendency has included healthcare, as well, as encouraging medical professionals to utilize a new approach that utilizes the benefits of person-centered, informed care. First of all, the issue has been addressed at the legislative level through the introduction of new policies to reduce the disparities. Socioeconomic inequality has been one of the grave consequences of institutional racism, depriving people of different backgrounds of access to a range of services by making them less affordable. According to Griffith et al. (2017), the introduction of the Affordable Care Act has mitigated the impact of racial disparities on healthcare accessibility by reducing the insurance coverage gap between low-income households and the middle class from 31% to 17%. As a result, more people with a history of oppression finally receive access to quality care.

Nevertheless, the pursuit of equality in healthcare is not yet over. When discussing the matter at hand, Yearby (2018) notes that racial disparities in the United States reached a structural level. In other words, their implications on healthcare and other spheres cannot be easily eradicated within a short period. In this scenario, the issue reflects the persistent nature of residual racism that remains in American society despite the prevailing policies against discrimination. Structural inequality prevents people of different ethnic backgrounds from utilizing due opportunities in terms of career and wealth. Consequently, their access to better-quality services is impeded, which is a threatening situation in terms of healthcare. Moreover, Yearby (2018) notes that the system is yet to demonstrate full cultural competency that will address each patient’s case with discretion and respect for their specific variables. Therefore, more efforts are needed to overcome the lasting impact of racial inequality in American healthcare.


Griffith, K., Evans, L., & Bor, J. (2017). The Affordable Care act reduced socioeconomic disparities in health care access. Health Affairs, 36(8). Web.

Yearby, R. (2018). Racial disparities in health status and access to healthcare: The continuation of inequality in the United States due to structural racism. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 77(3-4), 1113-1152. Web.

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