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Healthcare Inequality and How It Affects Every Citizen

Healthcare inequality is perhaps something you may not have heard of before. This is a term that describes the case when there is a group of people in an economy that is in worse health in comparison to others in the economy.

In America, health inequality directly relates to income inequality. Studies suggest that the higher a person’s income, the better their health.

America’s Health Inequality

There is one reason that explores why America’s healthcare inequality is such that it is. This is because it is the only developed country that relies on private health insurance. This means that people who have the benefit of corporate-sponsored healthcare plans enjoy better healthcare access.

Before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, nearly 25% of US citizens had either minimal or no health insurance. This resulted in the deaths of more than 101,000 of this 25% each year, as they could not afford the expensive health care in America. Some people have lost their homes, cleared their savings, and incurred severe credit card debt through medical bills. The US economy is suffering from this since half of all the bankruptcies in the country are a result of medical debt in some way or form.

The Hard Facts

Between the years 2011 and 2013, 38% of American households with an income below $22,500 per annum had poor or moderate health. Only a low 12% of the families with an income exceeding $$47,700 per annum reported low to moderate health. This applied to both groups, even in the event of insurance coverage.

It found that the 1% of the most affluent people lived on average 15 years longer than the poorest 1%. Studies concluded that low-income individuals were over 33% as likely as affluent individuals to develop chronic health issues that affect daily life. Unfortunately, economically, the facts don’t look good either since the wealthiest 1% have seen their total income increase by 10% between 1979 and 2007 while the most deficient 1% saw their share decrease by between 1 and  2%.  The global financial crisis in 2008only saw the wealthy grow wealthier.

Health and Low-Income Families

There are several reasons as to why low-income families tend to have poorer health. Some of the reasons are that low-income neighborhoods are situated such that they do not have nearby access to prime healthcare facilities. This is most true for rural areas. There is also a rising cost of healthcare such that one in every five Americans actually go without medical attention since they cannot afford it. Costly healthcare is also throwing people from middle-income groups into poverty. The inequality in health insurance is that many poor people cannot afford Medicaid, even if they are working. Under Obamacare, they do receive subsidies, but the coverage applies to certain medical facilities and for specific treatment or practices. Thus, in rural areas, this cover is still insufficient.

How This Affects You

The inequality in the healthcare system increases costs for everyone. The people who cannot afford health insurance that covers preventative care end up in emergency rooms. Since the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act states that hospitals cannot refuse to treats individuals who show up in the emergency room, there is a cost of $10 billion per year to treat uninsured people. The insurance covers the cost and added to your tax bill.

The Solution

A system called universal healthcare is one that offers high-quality medical services to every citizen, irrespective of their financial status. The federal government provides this to each person regardless of them being rich or poor. There are many advantages to such a system. This system happens to lower healthcare costs for the entire economy.

The government can control the prices of treatment and medication through regulations and negotiation. It eliminates administrative costs, as there is no dealing with different private medical professionals. Also, healthcare providers do not need to employ staff to manage health insurance company rules. Hospitals and doctors follow this system to offer the same standard of medical service to all patients and at a low cost.

Healthcare is an integral part of our lives. It is a necessity, and so it is unfair for there to be such discrepancies in pricing for treatments and services, and for service providers to be varying prices so dramatically. Healthcare inequality is a real concern, and it affects everyone, whether they realize it or not.

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