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Racial Barriers Of Accessing Health Care

1896 words - 8 pages

The present health crisis for racial minorities in the United States can be traced back to 400 years ago when racial discrimination rooted in this continent. For this long period of time, minorities were exclusive from the so called "mainstream" health system. The most popular health care system in U.S. - managed care, has actually built in incentives which may encourage discrimination. Research shows that "the total family premiums have risen more than $2,700 in four years, a rate was four times faster than that for workers' earnings" ("Kerry" 2004). Another research also shows that "the health care cost is continuing to increase in 12.9 percent next year. The firms are likely to shift much ...view middle of the document...

Because of institutional racism, minorities have less education and fewer educational opportunities. Minorities are disproportionately homeless and have significantly poorer housing options. Racial residential segregation contributes to the concentration of poverty in minority communities. All these place minorities in economical, political, and social disadvantages in society which lead to numerous barriers, such as lack of insurance, lack of money, inadequate location of health care facilities, lack of enforcement of federal laws and so on, to access adequate health care.First, minorities lack of economic access to health care. A disproportionate number of racial minorities have no insurance, are unemployed, are employed in jobs that do not provide health care insurance, disqualify for government assistance programs, or fail to participate because of administrative barriers. Research shows that more than 38.4 million Americans are uninsured with no economic access to health care, mostly are racial minorities. The health insurance in the United States is most often tied to employment, racial stratification of the economy due to other forms of discrimination has resulted in a concentration of racial minorities in low wage jobs. And these jobs are always without insurance benefits. For example in the film "John Q", the main actor John, who is a black steel worker with a child in his family, cannot qualify the health insurance for his child because his job doesn't include health insurance benefits. Eitzen and Zinn in their book "Social problem", states that "structural changes in the U.S. economy- the shift of employment from manufacturing to services, the rise in contingent and part-time employment, and the decline in union membership- have resulted in a decline in employment-related health insurance coverage" ("Social Problems", p.500). As a result, disproportionate numbers of the uninsured are racial minorities who are more likely with the low wages jobs.The welfare reform enacted in 1996 worsen the problem. It changed the structure of public assistance, resulting in a negative impact on women and minorities. One of the direct effects of welfare reform is reduction in the use of Medicaid by those who qualify due to an unawareness of eligibility requirements, resulting in an increased number of uninsured. A second effect has been that the subsequent increased poverty among those in need of assistance has caused a worsening of health status and an increased in the need for health care services. Gaps in health status and the absence of relevant health information are directly related to access to health care.Second, there are many racial barriers to access health care. Many hospitals discriminate by using patient referral and acceptance practice standard that limit access. These practices restrict the admission of African-Americans to hospitals, for example not having physicians on staff who can accept Medicaid patients; requiring pre-admission...

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