Opinion / The Nation and the World

Improving healthcare access in America for all

Access to healthcare in America has been decreasing to devastatingly low numbers. Based on data points collected from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of healthcare access and use in America due to the lack of health insurance has dropped significantly.

Significantly impacted by the changing of nationwide healthcare plans, the access to healthcare in America dropped from 77% in 1984 to 61% in 2010 because of declining insurance accessible to the public. The percentages have only recently begun to rise after 2010 with the addition of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, a health care insurance that aims to provide affordable health insurance for all Americans. 

As sadly anticipated, however, the rising access to insurance and health care still appears uneven based on the race and ethnicity of Americans. When compared with other races and ethnicities, non-Hispanic, white Americans account for more than half of the received health care and annual spending on health care. The percentage of white Americans’ spending is bigger than the percentages of Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Pacific-Islanders’ spending combined, and the differences in percentage continue to grow.

The considerable differences in annual spending are driven by racial and ethnic inequality. Dr. Joseph L. Dieleman, lead author of a 2016 study of race and healthcare access, summarizes that “this study provides a clear picture of who is benefiting from and who is being left behind in our healthcare system.” This year alone, the non-Hispanic, white population received more healthcare for their population, while other races and ethnicities are getting less than what they require and deserve. 

Our awareness and understanding of this immoral and critical issue got much stronger after analyzing the relationship between race and healthcare, initially for a Calculus class project. To help fight this bias in America, our community must recognize that this disparity is not something that time will mend. We, as a nation, must work on acknowledging that there is a problem and it must be fixed. The annual amount of money spent on health care has increased, yet there has been limited progress made due to where this money has continued to get distributed. There is a clear racial and ethnic bias in America, not just in the health care system, but in many aspects of our country.

When voting on who will represent us in government, it is important to make sure you educate yourself about their values and beliefs, and if they align with yours. For example, President Barack Obama created Obamacare, giving the needed resources to everyone regardless of their differences.

Finally, with the evolving viruses and diseases in the world, we can only predict that the demand for healthcare will go up, meaning that the country must improve the availability of equal health care for all. More money must be put into the health of this country and should be distributed equally among all citizens. 

To help support and spread awareness about this issue, please share this article and information with someone in or out of the Dana Hall community, educating classmates and the members of our and your communities about this topic. We can also confront the racial bias at Dana Hall, to prevent the spread of mistreatment due to one’s race, which could lead to a situation like less access to healthcare, for example. It is our job to welcome and treat everyone in our community equally and with respect.

Graphs: the authors, from their Calculus class (top); 2016 study results from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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