Definition of Healthcare Disparities
Because of the existence of broader historic and contemporary inequalities in the economic and social status of individuals and evidence of persistent racial and ethnic discriminations in different sectors of life, there occur many differences in the provision of healthcare services. These differences are described as healthcare disparities. There are different factors and actors causing these disparities. The prevailing healthcare systems, some of the healthcare providers, patients themselves and utilization managers are the responsible sources for evolving racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. One of the major enablers is health insurance. Health insurance in the United States is a source of the creation of substantial racial and ethnic differences. While 74% of whites are covered by private health insurance, the percentage is as less as 45% in the case of Hispanics/Latinos. African Americans constitute the largest group of people covered by Medicaid (LaVeist, 2005).
Barriers for Healthcare for Some Women
One of the areas in the healthcare of women where most barriers exist is the reproductive health area. Mother-child care is another area where women might need medical care. In the case of certain women, lack of education may be the main factor, which hinders the provision of healthcare to them. Due to innocence or lack of knowledge, the women may not know when certain medical attention is required. This may prevent women from taking advantage of preventative health measures. For example, if a woman is left without treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, it may lead to infertility or death, apart from harming all her partners. Depending on the family structure and culture, seeking healthcare-related to sex may be difficult in the case of some other women. Confidentiality is another factor, which may prevent some of the women from taking advice on better healthcare measures. Confidentiality may also stem from the culture of the community to which the women belong. These cultures are commonly found in communities, which are tight-knit, where the women are afraid of gossip. Language may present another barrier in the case of certain special groups of women. For instance, a non-English speaking woman would find it extremely difficult to explain the kind of ailment or disease she has and to get the required treatment. A woman patient not knowing the language may lead to a lack of proper treatment, besides the possibility of getting over-charges due to wrong treatment (Mathur).
Evidence to Show Ethnic Disparities Exist in Healthcare for Women
Poor health conditions, in general, characterize the non-Hispanic black women as compared to Whites in respect of the general health status of women. Black women have reported a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases. The number of incidences of heart failures, coronary heart diseases, hypertension and stroke appears to be more in the case of black women as compared to White women, which indicates a disparity in the provision of healthcare for ethnic women. Similarly, the birth weights of non-Hispanic women are lesser than those of the whites, which evidences mal-nutrition and poor healthcare facilities for ethnic women. The higher breast cancer mortality rate may be because of the problems with access to high-quality healthcare by black women. In the case of black women, they are most likely to receive inadequate communication of their screening results or they are unlikely to receive any report on a patient-noted abnormality or abnormal mammogram within 30 days of the diagnostic evaluation. This evidences a clear disparity in the healthcare services for Ethnic women (Holly Mead, Jones, Ramos, Woods, & Siegel, 2008).
- Holly Mead, L. C.-S., Jones, K., Ramos, C., Woods, K., & Siegel, B. (2008, March). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the U S Healthcare: A Chart Book.
- LaVeist, T. A. (2005). Minority Populations and Health: An Introduction to Health Disparities in the United States. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
- Mathur, V. (n.d.). Special Groups of Women and the Barriers they Face When Seeking Reproductive Heathcare.