Moral and Ethical Issues in Addressing the Underserved Populations’ Health Needs

Topic: Public Health
Words: 299 Pages: 1

The underserved populations in the state, community, or city include individuals without insurance plans, patients recording poor chronic disease outcomes due to inability to access preventive measures and recommended screening. Other underserved populations include geographical areas that encounter health professionals’ shortages and primary medical care encompassing health resources. Additionally, the very young and old patients, inadequate health literacy, low-income earners, lower education levels, and inability to communicate in English contributes to underserved populations. This paper focuses on the ethical and moral issues present when communities/cities/states choose to address or not address the underserved populations’ health needs and resources available for them.

When the state, community, or city involves meeting the underserved populations’ health needs in the community, it experiences three types of ethical and moral standard issues, including moral distress, dilemma, and quandary. Moral distress arises from the healthcare practitioner’s inability to take the right action when serving the vulnerable populations due to a lack of required service resources (Park et al., 2018). On the other hand, an ethical dilemma occurs when the physician fulfills some moral standards while compromising others. Lastly, ethical quandary arises in the essence of conflicting issues on who possesses the moral authority in making decisions concerning how the underserved populations receive medical care.

Basing on the low-income earners and homeless populations, the resources include shelter-based clinics that ensure low-barrier healthcare services for shelter dwellers and mobile healthcare that allows physicians to attend to street individuals for screening and immunization. Another resource is the community health centers that provide comprehensive health care services to the population in areas like mental and dental service and hypertension (Park et al., 2018). Additionally, the health care insurance in terms of ACA, Medicaid, and CHIP programs allow medication for the homeless, low-income, and children for the eligible underserved population.


Park, J., Erikson, C., Han, X., & Iyer, P. (2018). Are state telehealth policies associated with the use of telehealth services among underserved populations?. Health Affairs, 37(12), 2060-2068.

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