Disparities in the Us Health Care System

Introduction

Scientists define cultural competence as a determining factor in the provision of medical services to the public because society is multifaceted, and medical workers assist people with various social, economic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. Moreover, the cultural competence of medical staff allows them to reach higher levels of patient satisfaction and health outcomes. This paper aims to describe the main disparities inherent in the modern US society and provide a roadmap for community health workers.

ANA Advocates Funds Distribution

Most often, health workers are blamed for showing ignorance regarding age, racial and socioeconomic inequalities, paying less medical attention to the most vulnerable groups. On the other hand, nurses may lack an understanding of the cultural background in particular groups. Equally important is the uneven and insufficient distribution of resources in the healthcare system, although this factor is beyond the competence of health workers.

Interestingly, the American Nurses Association (ANA) proposes to ‘raise the bar’ and improve the quality of interaction between doctors and patients. In particular, ANA stands for preserving the high standards of nursing practice, a safe working environment, and assures the well-being of nurses (“About ANA,” n.d.). Besides, the ANA monitors government regulation of the disparity issue, in particular, advocates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the ANA official website, it is stated that in 2017, the association helped to stop “the passage of legislation that would undermine the current health care delivery system” (“Health system transformation,” n.d., para. 3). In general, this law is important because it allows for “more even distribution of expansions and funding for community health care” (Artiga et al., 2020, para. 4). ACA was passed in 2010, but since then many attempts have been made to cancel or change it.

The Impact of Disparity and the Socioeconomic Factors

The disparity in receiving proper medical aid and health care services is a painful issue for American society since racial and ethnic minorities and older people are among the most vulnerable groups. Moreover, according to statistical forecasts, by 2050, 20% of Americans will be elderly people, and 35% of over 65 years old population will be racial and ethnic minorities (“Cultural competence,” n.d.). The situation is critical, as these populations are facing high morbidity and mortality rates from chronic diseases. Besides, in these groups, a lower level of satisfaction with medical care was reported.

The interaction of doctors and patients is usually complicated by linguistic and cultural barriers, and sometimes by the low literacy level. Racial and ethnic minority groups include African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans (“Cultural competence,” n.d.). Disparities in health care result in the need for increased costs of medical care – due to the lack of detection of diseases at earlier stages. In some cases, disparities cause patients’ activity limitations – people are being deprived of work, walking, bathing, or dressing. Reported chronic diseases include asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, and depression, which are the most costly medical conditions in the US.

How Community Nurses Can Address the Issue

To prevent similar problems in the future, scientists recommend training for medical personnel on cultural competence and cross-cultural issues. They also propose providing translation services to non-English speaking patients, “recruit and retain minority staff, increase cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills through the training, establish coordination with traditional healers” (“Cultural competence,” n.d., para. 10). Besides, scientists insist on involving the community and family members in health care decision-making, locating clinics in geographic areas accessible for mentioned populations, and making bilingual appointment desks, advice lines, and medical billing. Depending on the specifics, training can be of different durations – from three hours to one semester.

Thus, the main disparities inherent in modern US society were described, and a roadmap for community health care centers was provided. In particular, it was found that older people, as well as racial and national minorities, are the most vulnerable. Community health care centers are suggested to apply various approaches that will help to overcome the cultural, linguistic, and other socioeconomic barriers to overcome disparities.

References

About ANA (n.d.). Web.

Artiga, S., Orgera, K., & Pham, O. (2020). Disparities in health and health care: Five key questions and answers. Web.

Cultural competence in health care: Is it important for people with chronic conditions? (n.d.). Web.

Health system transformation (n.d.). Web.