For the past one decade, there has been increased concerns related to the rising inequality in the delivery of healthcare. Inequality in healthcare refers to a situation where there is lack of uniformity or regularity in peoples’ access to quality healthcare (Freeman 2016). Inequalities in healthcare are experienced at the national, community, and individual levels. The United States government and many governments across the globe have made important steps towards promoting uniformity in the healthcare sector (Freeman 2016). Health is an important part of everyday living, and inequalities in the delivery of healthcare will prevent people from enjoying their right to equal access to quality healthcare.
Gender based Inequality
A recent research in the medical field shows that women live longer than men in industrialized countries, even though women fall sick more often than the men. The high mortality in men can be attributed to the notion that men are mainly faced with chronic conditions, ranked high in major causes of deaths such as lung cancer and heart disease. Women, on the other hand, are faced with relatively “light” health conditions such as pains, muscle aches, and tiredness that cause minimal deaths in a year (Cockerham1982). The high mortality rate in men can also be attributed to their higher consumption of alcohol and cigarettes compared with women. The following factors are the main causes of increased gender – based inequality on healthcare.
Women overrepresentation in Health Statistics
Researchers have spent more time finding health data related to women than that related to men. Perhaps this explains why women data on morbidity, life expectancy, and mortality is more elaborate than the data gathered on men (Cockerham1982). The increased availability of women’s data means that they are usually given more attention when it comes to diagnosis and treatment of the various health conditions.
The common social idea of “ladies first” has extensively been applied in healthcare. This basically means that, when attending to both female and male clients, a physician may first choose to attend to the female patient, raising the argument that male patients are stronger and can thus wait (Moorland 2002: 23). In the situation where the access to medical services is limited, a lower number of men will get access to health chances because their positions will be taken by men.
Increased Medicalization of the Reproductive Function
Although no woman can reproduce without a man, the reproduction function is more of a woman’s role than the role of a man. As such, more medical methods have been developed to aid the reproduction process, and this has contributed to increased health inequality among men (Moorland 2002: 25). The increased medicalization has led to many developments and innovations in healthcare with the only concern being that the developments are benefitting more women than men.
Class based Inequality
The increased cases of inequality in healthcare can be attributed to peoples’ different social classes in the society. When talking of the class, the focus is on three major factors including education, wealth, and income. Education imparts people with great skills, knowledge, and experiences thus enabling them to deal with the problems they encounter in their lives. Education also gives people more confidence to face life challenges. In healthcare, educated people will be more concerned about their health and may want to go for regular checkups to improve their health (Fulton 2009). By availing themselves, educated people will become better beneficiaries of healthcare services than those who are not educated.
More income and wealth will provide people with the financial resources they need to take care of their health. For example, wealthy people or people with high incomes will be able to subscribe to Medicare programs or buy health insurance for themselves for their families (Fulton 2009). With the health insurance in place, they will be able to gain more access to health services. Access to healthcare will be a major challenge for people with very low incomes since they cannot afford to buy health insurance.
Racial based Inequality
The issue of racial prejudice is a serious problem that has been witnessed even in the healthcare sector. In the United States today, the health of African Americans is much worse compared with the health of white Americans. From a psychological point of view, different social structures can be blamed for the increased racial-based inequality in healthcare. Social structure shapes peoples’ beliefs and attitudes (Walker and Burke 2010: 84). When people develop the belief that black Americans are less qualified to be American citizens than the whites, the blacks will have a problem gaining access to essential services, including healthcare.
Migration has allowed different communities from different parts of the world to come together. However, migration has come with many racial issues such as discrimination (Walker and Burke 2010: 86). This happens in situations where people see themselves as being more qualified than others. When this happens in healthcare, the people being discriminated against will usually have a hard time gaining access to various healthcare services.
Healthcare services in the United States and many countries around the world have not been delivered to the required levels. This is mainly because of issues related to gender, class, and race. When people start looking at others as different and less important, they may deny them their rightful access to health services. The United States government has implemented policies to promote equality in the delivery of health services. Better policies are however needed in future to deal with issues related to racism, gender inequality, and discrimination.
- Cockerham, W. C. 1982. “Medical sociology.” Prentice Hall.
- Freeman, D. 2016. “Black Hospital Patients Given Cold Shoulder in Disturbing New Study.” Huffington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2017 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-patients-worse-care_us_568ffdbbe4b0cad15e6498d9).
- Fulton, A. 2009. “46 Million Uninsured: A Look behind the Number.” Retrieved March 28, 2017 (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111651742).
- Moorland, K., et al. 2002. “Neighborhood Characteristics Associated with the Location of Food Stores and Food Services Places.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 22(1): 23-29
- Walker, R. E., Keane, C. R., and Burke, J. G. 2010. “Disparities and access to healthy food in the United States: A review of food deserts literature.” Health & Place, 16, 5, 876-84.