Disparity in Healthcare

According to Dictonary.com, disparity is the “lack of similarity or equality; inequality; difference” (“Disparity”, n.d.). Disparities of services, such as healthcare, can occur in relation to cultural, racial or economic differences and can often affect entire communities. Health care may be unattainable to individuals who do not have the means to purchase insurance and do not qualify for programs or benefits that provide services. Therefore, many individuals who can not afford proper health care, and health prevention services, can suffer from a host of life issues outside of health-related issues, such as the inability to work due to untreated illnesses causing permanent disabilities. Furthermore, individuals who grow up in poor economic settings often suffer from a lack of proper educational opportunities which can lead to further disparities in health care. One study showed that black people were more likely to be socioeconomically affected that whites and suffer from access to proper healthcare on a larger level (Braveman et al., 2010). “On several indicators, Blacks did worse than Whites at each income and education level—suggesting that these systematic racial or ethnic differences are unlikely to respond to purely socioeconomic strategies but rather require additional steps to address profoundly embedded structural factors, such as racial residential segregation, that disadvantage Blacks at all socioeconomic levels” (Braveman et al., 2010).

Furthermore, according to statistics, whites are 78% more likely to receive certain needed medical procedures and wait times for certain transplants, such as kidneys, are double than that of whites (Health Professionals for Diversity, 2017). Ethnic minorities are vastly underrepresented in the healthcare industry, which can prevent some ethnic group members from seeking medical help when needed. For example, “In the 2000 U.S. Census, African Americans accounted for nearly 12.7 percent and Hispanics accounted for nearly 12.6 percent of the U.S. population” (Health Professionals for Diversity, 2017). One solution for helping the socioeconomic health disparities is to ensure that the healthcare industry is more diverse by setting up programs to draw in more ethnic minorities into healthcare positions. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”


Braveman, P. A., Cubbin, C., Egerter, S., Williams, D. R., & Pamuk, E. (2010). Socioeconomic Disparities in Health in the United States: What the Patterns Tell Us. American Journal of Public Health, 100(Suppl 1), S186–S196. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.166082

Disparity. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/disparity

Health Professionals for Diversity. (2017). Fact Sheet: The Need for Diversity in the Health Care Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.aapcho.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/NeedForDiversityHealthCareWorkforce.pdf

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2017). Disparities. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Disparities

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