Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Health Care

Today's blog post is authored by MedEq's Budget Committee Head, Johnny "The Boy" Stephan. 

Racial and social inequality serves as a great contributor to health disparities in the United States. Socioeconomic status is a combined total measure of education, income, and occupation that is compared in relation to that of others. Unfortunately, vast differences in socioeconomic status across different categories such as race and ethnic group have created social schisms along with unequal health care treatment. In a comprehensive report conducted in 2008 by the Center for Disease Control, it can be extrapolated that people of various ethnic groups or socioeconomic statuses are increasingly susceptible to specific health pathologies than others. Specific examples are depicted in the table below (5):

In order to alleviate the strain of these common health disorders on various groups, promoting affordable and accessible healthcare is the top initiative. As we all know, healthcare is a touchy and highly politicized issue in which politics have added further complications in completing this task. The debate of whether or not the government should take on the commitment of providing affordable healthcare to its citizens is deliberative. What is factual however, is that inaccessible health care has lead to health disparities at the racial level. 

According to the CDC, a larger percentage of Hispanic and African American adults aged 18-64 years were without health insurance when compared to white and Asian/Pacific Islanders (1). This is a big cause for concern as people without insurance may not be able to pay for treatment that they desperately need. Not only would they be unable to pay for treatment but they may not be able to afford the time off work. As depicted in the figure below, Business Insider tells us that the average income for Hispanics and African Americans is about $12,000 less than the average for the rest of Americans (2). Moreover, lower wage workers are more likely to work for small businesses and, therefore, less likely to have access to health insurance, paid vacations, and sick days (3). It is easy to see that poor socioeconomic status can cause a big decrease in health coverage.

Every day, people go without needed medical care because they are not insured. In 2014, 27% of uninsured adults went without needed medical care due to cost (4). Not only do they not get the needed emergency medical care, people who are uninsured receive much less preventative care than their counterparts. In 2014, just over a quarter of uninsured adults reported a preventive visit with a physician in the last year, compared to 47% of insured adults who gained coverage in 2014 and 65% of adults who had coverage since before 2014 (4). These numbers account for millions of Americans who are going every day without medical insurance. We need to strive towards a society that can offer healthcare to everyone, disregarding of socioeconomic status.

References: 

1.  "Minority Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 July 2015. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

2. Perlberg, Steven. "American Median Incomes By Race Since 1967 [CHART]." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

3. "Work, Stress, and Health & Socioeconomic Status." American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, 2009. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

4. "Key Facts about the Uninsured Population." Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Family Foundation, 05 Oct. 2015. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

5. Brennan Ramirez LK, Baker EA, Metzler M. Promoting Health Equity: A Resource to Help Communities Address Social Determinants of Health. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2008.

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