Our current health care system contributes to significant disparities across a number of dimensions, including race and ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, age, income level, geographic location and disability status. For example, Americans in poverty receive less care and the care receive is often lower quality. Futher, while hospitals in the U.S. have an obligation to provide emergency care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, many hospitals have found loopholes in the law that allow them to fulfill minimum requirements even though a patients’ needs have not been met. In addition, the high price of prescription drugs means too many Americans cannot afford the medicine they need. Today, the average white American will live four years longer than the average African American. Contrasting Americans by income, the gap is over a decade. That’s the largest gap of any wealthy country.
Medicare-for-All would ensure that everyone in the U.S. can access the care they need, regardless of income or background. This would improve access to health care for historically underserved populations. Expanded screening, prevention and treatment for diseases disproportionately affecting underserved communities, including sickle-cell anemia and diabetes, would mean improved quality of life and reduced costs in the long term. Better access to care would also help medical providers better understand how health needs and treatment responses vary by race, gender and other characteristics. Finally, with everyone in the U.S. having access to high-quality health care, regardless of income, families can finally feel secure that one illness won’t mean financial ruin.
- Government site: Health People 2020: Disparities
- News Article: The Costs of Inequality: Faster Lives, Quicker Deaths
- Government Report: 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy
- Journal Article: Emerging Trends Could Exacerbate Health Inequities In The United States.
- Journal Article: The Affordable Care Act Reduced Socioeconomic Disparities In Health Care Access.
- News Article: The Dramatic Health Disparities Between Rich and Poor Americans
- Journal Article: Health Insurance Coverage and Health — What the Recent Evidence Tells Us
- News Article: The Fight for Health Care Has Always Been About Civil Rights