Theory of Equal Access to Care

Disparities in access to care among minority populations directly affect health care outcomes – diabetes rates are 30% higher in Native Americans and Latinos, infant mortality is 2.5 times higher for black babies than for white, while life expectancy for black men and women is 10 years fewer compared to white counterparts (Riley, 2012). I would like to examine the disparities in access to care that had occurred in a healthcare organization as related to ethnic, racial, gender, and income minorities as well as determine how the degree of access affects their health outcomes.

Database information for this purpose is available from healthcare organizations that regularly collect data on patients’ backgrounds. Equal access to care is a provision outlined by the Healthy People 2020 initiative and implies the availability of comprehensive, quality care services provided to the population (Healthy People 2010, 2019).

The project will add value to Human Rights Watch by identifying areas of non-performance and potential improvements, enhancement of services provided to minority patients, and possible reduction of costs. Health advocacy aligns with the values of the organization because justice represents one of the core ethical considerations of health care and public well-being in general. This project aligns with my future career goals because it offers an opportunity to analyze the disparities in healthcare and initiate a proactive discussion of ways of its elimination.

As a healthcare professional, I share the desire to be a social justice advocate to ensure that all patients, regardless of their background, are treated equally and with a high degree of responsibility (Haddad & Geiger, 2019). Key performance indicators related to the project include the utilization of healthcare services by minority populations, the rate of unmet medical needs, the availability and distribution of both physical, technological, and human resources, perceive barriers related to access, essential technologies and medicines, and informational/educational resources.

The current research literature on the topic of disparities in health care access provides ample evidence of the fact that minority groups do not receive the desired coverage and quality of care. While Jackson and Gracia (2014) have linked the problem to the lack of cultural competency of the healthcare workforce, Xin (2017) proposed that there are lacking financial resources to cover the direct medical care expenditures of minority populations. Brealand-Noble and MacGregor Griffith (2017) underlined the fact that while disparities in health had existed for more than a hundred years, gaps linked to racial and ethnic gaps had only grown wider. Health inequality is primarily associated with poverty as the lack of financial confidence in many minority groups prevents them from seeking and accessing high-quality care (Chokshi, 2018).

The subtle role of bias in creating and exasperating health disparities has also been widely discussed because of the inherent issue of racial and social discrimination that has existed in society for centuries (Riley, 2012). When researching the causes of racial health care disparities, Gollust et al. (2018) found that social and economic determinants had a more significant influence to care access than the education of providers or patients’ attitudes. Moreover, health care gaps also affect children from minority backgrounds as well as those with adverse childhood experiences, which points to the need to expand the resolution of the problem even further (Searcy, 2017).

In general, the trends in health disparities are troubling to the sphere of health care as the failure to provide care to population groups increases the development of adverse health outcomes, morbidity, and mortality (Bilal & Diez-Roux, 2018). Overall, research available on the topic of health disparities points to the need to be more proactive in eliminating the identified barriers due to their adverse influence on the population’s well-being.

References

Bilal, U., & Diez-Roux, A. (2018). Troubling trends in health disparities. The New England Journal of Medicine, 378, 1557-1558.

Breland-Noble, A., & MacGregor Griffith, D. (2017). Introduction to the special issue on health disparities and diversity. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 24(3-4), 179-181.

Chokshi, D. (2018). Income, poverty, and health inequality. JAMA, 319(13), 1312-1313.

Gollust, S., Cunningham, B., Bokhour, B., Gordon, H., Pope, C., Saha, S., … Burgess, D. (2018). What causes racial health care disparities? A mixed-methods study reveals variability in how health care providers perceive causal attributions. INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, 55. Web.

Haddad, L., & Geiger, R. (2019). Nursing ethical considerations. Web.

Healthy People 2020. (2019). Access to health services. Web.

Jackson, C. S., & Gracia, J. N. (2014). Addressing health and health-care disparities: the role of a diverse workforce and the social determinants of health. Public Health Reports, 129(Suppl 2), 57-61.

Riley W. J. (2012). Health disparities: gaps in access, quality and affordability of medical care. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 123, 167-174.

Searcy, L. (2017). Are we fulfilling our promise to children facing health disparities and adverse childhood experiences? Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 31(2), 142-144.

Xin, H. (2017). Editorial: Health Disparities-An Important Public Health Policy Concern. Frontiers in Public Health, 5, 99.