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Healthcare Accessibility: Highlighting Less Prominently Discriminated Groups

Access to healthcare in the United States has long been a persistent issue, dating back to the country’s creation. Although healthcare was initially an emerging concept during that era, racist and discriminatory ideals created during the United States’ colonial era left behind a lasting imprint on healthcare accessibility, proving itself a major influence even today. While considerable attention has rightfully been directed towards addressing healthcare disparities among prominent minority groups in the United States, it is imperative to also shine a light on the inequality faced by less prominent discriminated people. 


In the United States, healthcare is not nationally recognized as a right but a service that individuals must obtain through employment-based insurance, private insurance, or government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The country’s historical dedication to individualism and limited government intervention in private affairs also furthers the inequality surrounding healthcare accessibility. The absence of a legal mandate for national healthcare means that access to it rides upon factors like employment status, income level, and insurance coverage. This approach to healthcare disproportionately targets less prominent monitory groups, most of whom already face systemic barriers in other sectors of life. For instance, undocumented immigrants – who are disqualified from many public health programs – face significant barriers to receiving affordable and accessible healthcare. Moreover, individuals with limited English proficiency are significantly at a disadvantage in navigating the complex healthcare system that is dependent on individual initiative. Other minority groups like refugees or religious minorities are subject to the inert prejudice and structural barriers grounded not only in U.S. policy but also in the healthcare system. 


Despite consistent efforts to promote equal and fair healthcare accessibility for individuals by organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Medical Association (AMA), Democracy for America, the Brookings Institution, and Health Care for America NOW!, among many others, access to healthcare remains a critical issue in the United States. Just recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has exemplified the harsh realities of inequality through the experiences of countless minority groups. According to Ruqaijah Yearby, et al. of HealthAffaifrs.org, a “lack of equitable access to high-quality health care is in large part a result of structural racism in US health care policy, which structures the health care system to advantage the White population and disadvantage racial and ethnic minority populations.” By treating healthcare as a commodity rather than an inherent right, the United States perpetuates systemization and institutional biases that consistently favor White populations over minority groups. Specifically, as of November 2021, “American Indian and Alaska Native, Black, and Latino people all had suffered from higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 compared with White People.” Furthermore, Yeaby, et al. express an important call for action to eradicate structural racism and discrimination in healthcare policy that sustains inequitable access to high-quality healthcare. They warn that if nothing is done, the racial and ethnic inequalities that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic will not only continue to devastate minority communities but also the vitality of the entire country. 





So what’s next? Changing the healthcare system and striving for more equality and accessibility to healthcare for less prominently discriminated groups will only be possible if we strive for fairness, compassion, and solidarity. Together, we can advocate for healthcare systems that prioritize the needs of every individual, ensuring that everyone has equal access to equal quality care. It is necessary to stand up to the idea that healthcare is not just a privilege, but a fundamental human right. 




Works Cited

“,.” , - YouTube, 8 January 2022, https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01466. Accessed 12 May 2024.

Acosta, Torres. “Diversity and Discrimination in Healthcare - StatPearls.” NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK568721/. Accessed 12 May 2024.


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