Health and Illness in the Community

Health and Illness in the Community

The United States (US) health indicator of general populations is hailed as one of the best in the world, and has been rated highly by the United Nations Human Development Index (UNHDI). Yet, this does not reflect the existing disparity and suffering of the vulnerable populations in regard to access of healthcare. It is argued that these inequalities are a result of income rather than outright discrimination. Mahoney & Michael (2013) explains that the minorities in the United States to face barriers that prevent them from accessing healthcare.

Stereotyping experience and how it impacted a community

Stereotyping of the Latin Americans (Latinos) is one of the most prevalent among the minority populations and it affects most families in many different social areas. Study has shown that a large number of Latinos have at one point in life experienced unfair treatment stemming from misconceptions about who they are, their level of education or culture. Most Latinos report that they are often treated as if they are illegal immigrants, even when they are legal permanent citizens.

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According to the latest nationwide survey about one-in-four (25%) of Latinos lack health insurance. This analysis shows the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group in the US. On average, only about 14% of the general population is uninsured. The rate is even much higher among those Latin Americans who are non-citizens. In the year 2014, it was estimated that nearly half (49%) of Hispanic immigrants are uninsured. True, Latinos make up the majority of U.S immigrants and many of them are in the country illegally. However, the Latino immigrants especially those of Mexican, Cuban or Puerto Rican origins have a history of facing inequality. The healthcare system in the United States has not been well accommodating for these minorities. Gatewood & James (2014) explains that with the continued influx of these immigrants, their healthcare situation is only getting worse.

Specific situation where I have observed healthcare inequalities for vulnerable populations

One of most specific healthcare inequality that I have observed involves the black population. It is undisputed that the black Americans are less likely to receive the same attention and quality of healthcare as white patients. A landmark report by the Institute of Medicine reaffirms this observation. The report shows that even when blacks had the ability to pay for better care or even when they had similar health insurance cover, they still received inferior treatment compared to their white counterparts.

Indeed, more than any other single racial group, the black community is more likely to suffer negative health outcomes such HIV/AIDS prevalence, cancer, infant mortality and higher risks of respiratory problems such as asthma. Ward & Kaufman (2014) explains that these negative outcomes are inseparable from the existing socioeconomic inequality. Study consistently shows that at least 20% of the country’s poorest and least educated are the black people.

Avoidable, unfair or unjust inequality

I have also observed that apart from socioeconomic inequality, there also seems to be a systematic bias in the way medical procedures and treatments are prescribed for different groups of people. There are repeated findings showing how the black get less privilege in healthcare, especially where it involves new healthcare technologies. A good example of such systematic bias is the report from Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Family Services. The report shows that though more white women are likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than the black women, cases of black women dying of cancer surpass that of their white counterparts by far. Smith & David (2015) explains that what this simply means is that after diagnosis, black women are less likely to get proper treatment compared to white women.


Gatewood, N., & James, B. (2014). Socioeconomic and Racial Differences in Health: Patterns and Explanations. Journal of National Medical Association102 (2), 107.

Mahoney, C., & Michael, A. (2013). Segregation, Poverty and Empowerment: Health Issues of African Americans. Family Medical Association Journal, 45(2), 104.

Smith, J., & David, E. (2015).Healthcare Divided: Race and Healing a Nation. Annual Public Health Review, 46(2), 111.

Ward, R., & Kaufman, E. (2014). Black and White Disparities in Health Care. The New Social Science &Healthcare Journal, 68(2), 82.


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