Healthcare is one of the major issues of modern America, and it has been for quite some time. In the United States, not everyone has access to healthcare, and many people believe that it has to change, advocating for healthcare equity. Healthcare equity is the concept of healthcare being accessible and affordable to every citizen, regardless of any social or cultural factors. However, arranging it might not be as simple as it seems, and there is a number of aspects to take into account when discussing the idea.
The first aspect that needs to be considered regarding the issue of equity in healthcare is the economic aspect. In his paper, Barros (2018) speaks about the benefits of a so-called single-payer system, which guarantees all people a right to healthcare. If the system is to be implemented, total healthcare spendings, both public and private, could be reduced by as much as nearly $2 trillion over the course of the next decade (Barros, 2018). This would be possible due to decreased administrative costs and costs for prescription drugs. However, some researchers draw attention to other angles of the issue: for one, state programs providing healthcare for particular divisions of the population need to be taken into account. Back in 1985, spendings on these accounted for less than 10 % of the federal budget; however, thirty years later, that figure was 10% higher, and it is projected to amount to 30% by 2028 (Olsen, 2017). In addition to that, as per Olsen (2017), universal healthcare coverage would lead to the federal debt increase by almost $20 billion dollars. Whether the government would want to take such risks is a big question.
Furthermore, there is the aspect that affects all aspects of America’s social life, including healthcare: institutionalized racism. It is common knowledge that people of color’s (POC) life expectancy is on average lower than white people’s. Moreover, Radley et al. (2021) note that POC die more often from treatable conditions and are more at risk for a number of chronic diseases than their white folks. Issues connected to access to care, its costs and affordability are additional factors contributing to inequity. If healthcare was provided to every citizen, it would solve many of the problems POC currently have within the field of healthcare, enhance their health indicators, and improve quality of life. Still, it is possible that equal income and health insurance coverages would not rectify the situation. Zimmerman and Anderson (2019) report that, to eliminate ethnic and racial differences of using a regular source of care and receiving outpatient care, other measures would need to be applied. This is due to the majority of these indicators’ differences not being taken into account by income and insurance coverages.
Finally, there is a well-established link between health and education. According to Peterson (2019), people with more years of schooling have higher chances of living longer and having better health indicators throughout their lives. Education provides citizens with increased access to resources, income, and health education, as well as a variety of social and psychological benefits. It works the other way around, too: health affects educational outcomes as some health problems – vision, hunger, asthma, and others – impact students’ ability to learn (Peterson, 2019). Universal healthcare could ensure that each of them had an opportunity to attend school and have their learning process unaffected by health problems. On the other hand, there is Tulane University (2021), who thinks that it is more reasonable for the state to invest in education since education supplies people with the tools to lead successful lives. It includes being able to find employment paying at least a living wage, live in safe neighborhoods – and accessing quality health care. That is, the idea is that the government gives citizens all opportunities to thrive, and these opportunists are one’s to take or to lose.
Barros, P. P. (2018). Economics meets healthcare: How can it be useful? European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 54(1), 1-3.
Olsen, J. A. (2017). Principles in health economics and policy. Oxford University Press.
Peterson, A. (2019). Educational equity IS health equity. ETR.
Radley, D.C., Baumgartner, J.C., Collins, S.R., Zephyrin, L., & Schneider E.C. (2021). Achieving racial and ethnic equity in U.S. health care. The Commonwealth Fund.
Tulane University. (2021). Education as a social determinant of health. Tulane University.
Zimmerman, F. J., & Anderson, N. W. (2019). Trends in health equity in the United States by race/ethnicity, sex, and income, 1993-2017. JAMA Network Open, 2(6), 1-10.