Access to healthcare in the U.S. is unequal, and many people cannot get proper medical care when they need it. Indeed, despite the significant development of the American healthcare system during the previous decades, it is still impossible to address some issues. One such problem is faced by vulnerable members of society. Women, seniors, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, and representatives of some races find it difficult to receive proper medical support. Thanks to various efforts of the American government, namely, the Affordable Care Act, the situation has become better, and more vulnerable populations get increased health insurance coverage.
This discussion board post focuses on health disparities caused by racial characteristics, and the particular vulnerable population is African Americans. This community group may be characterized by increased rates of chronic health issues, and many African Americans have undiagnosed diseases (Bridges, n.d.). These chronic medical conditions usually include diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease. What is more, according to Wen and Sadeghi (2020), “African Americans have higher rates of maternal mortality and death from cancer and heart disease than any other racial and ethnic group” (para. 6). Considering the mentioned issues, it is fundamentally important for this vulnerable population to have access to better healthcare. Nowadays, African Americans can usually receive long-term treatment and hearing, vision, and dental care, as well as afford having a usual source of care (a personal or family doctor).
Unfortunately, despite the significant improvements, African Americans still receive fewer health services, significantly affecting their state. As noticed by the National Academy of Medicine, “racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people—even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable” (as cited in Bridges, n.d., para. 2). This constantly reduced access to proper medical support affects the average health level of African Americans and increases the rates of mortality and morbidity among them. What is more, they receive lower-quality treatment and face unwelcoming attitudes from healthcare workers even during the global pandemic. Wen and Sadeghi (2020) notice that “African American patients were six times less likely to receive COVID-19 testing than white patients” (para. 4). This is highly devastating, considering the fact that they also have many chronic conditions worsened by the coronavirus.
Some services currently available to African Americans, including the services of a personal doctor, long-term care, and hearing, vision, and dental help, were mentioned earlier in the paper. However, these services were not or were just partly available for this vulnerable population before the Affordable Care Act was adopted. Most black people did not seek medical help in the first place due to their social status, low income, and personnel’s negative attitudes, including high segregation of hospitals. African Americans could not afford a family or personal medical professional, and most health issues were undiagnosed.
With the adoption of ACA, the black community’s representatives can access various diagnostic and treatment methods. Overall, the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on this population are very significant. As stated by Baumgartner et al. (2020), racial disparities in insurance coverage were narrowed by the ACA, and “the gap between black and white adult uninsured rates dropped by 4.1 percentage points” (para. 3). Nowadays, African Americans are more likely to be treated in welcoming and inclusive healthcare facilities, which is another achievement of the ACA.
Baumgartner, J. C., Collins, S. R., Radley, D. C., & Hayes, S. L. (2020). How the Affordable Care Act has narrowed racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care. The Commonwealth Fund. Web.
Bridges, K. M. (n.d.). Implicit bias and racial disparities in health care. Human Rights Magazine, 43(3).
Wen, L. S., & Sadeghi, N. B. (2020). Addressing racial health disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic: Immediate and long-term policy solutions. Health Affairs. Web.