Racial Discrimination in Healthcare

There have been numerous attempts to realize all the numerous factors that stand behind discrimination. Various types of inequality can be found in a wide range of spheres, including education and health care. Therefore, the phenomenon can seriously affect people’s future career opportunities and health solely due to the existence of various harmful stereotypes. Although multiple efforts have been encouraged through the implementation of sophisticated policies, a plethora of prejudices seriously undermine the opportunities of various racial minorities to receive health care of superior quality.

The national health care system demonstrates numerous imbalances and inefficiencies that can be rooted in the approach to the importance of such services that numerous policymakers demonstrate. It has become vivid recently that the US remains the only rich Western nation that does not include health care in the list of welfare state functions that it prioritizes. Both the prices for health care services and the insurance costs remain extremely high, which diminishes the chances of millions of Americans being assisted in times of crisis. Therefore, numerous systematic issues exacerbate the existing racial discrimination.

Emerging evidence suggests that racial minorities experience multiple types of inequality. Karapin and Feldman (2020) state that discrimination results in multiple political, economic, and social inequalities. Thus, a large part of the US population represented by minorities finds themselves in a precarious position, as the social welfare network often does not include a substantial health insurance plan. Although the federal government has introduced numerous programs that seek to make insurance plans significantly more affordable, there are still numerous controversies that undermine their implementation.

Medicaid has proven to be instrumental in the provision of healthcare services to a large part of the population that cannot afford an insurance plan. At the same time, the program has left millions of households without insurance coverage. Firstly, the Supreme Court ruled out that each state can decide on the necessity of changing the income threshold independently. Therefore, the changes promoted and encouraged by federal government officials can be ignored by numerous states. Secondly, the criteria that the program utilizes demonstrate vivid inefficiencies, as it exacerbates the phenomenon centered around the “working poor” and people living in similar conditions. The current Medicaid eligibility income line is low, which does not allow numerous hard-working families in poor communities to apply for insurance.

Therefore, racial inequality and other types of discrimination based on income are deeply intertwined. Although several government policies ensure that the poorest demographic groups have an insurance plan, a significant percentage of poor communities that have been working in low-paying positions for generations are often not taken into account. Therefore, minorities, in general, tend to have lower incomes and, at the same time, are deprived of an opportunity to apply for government-subsidized health insurance coverage.

Another significant issue that underpins the existing problems related to racial inequality in healthcare provision includes the status of migrants. Illegal migrants have already become a crucial part of the workforce. Although the phenomenon has become highly controversial and needs to be analyzed in detail concerning all the social, economic, and demographic factors, migrants’ lack of health care insurance coverage vividly creates problems. Contrary to the widespread belief that only European countries with significant socialist influence introduce universal free health care systems or similar policies, numerous other nations have independently realized the efficiency of the approach.

Numerous illegal migrants tend to take low-paying jobs involving manual labor. Due to minimal regulation and diminished quality of security measures, working conditions often put them in a precarious position. At the same time, such people are afraid to ask for assistance in any type of institution, as they try to minimize contact with any official documents and government workers. Therefore, when ill or injured, millions of people living in the wealthiest nation in the world cannot receive even minimal healthcare in numerous states. Thus, once compared to multiple other healthcare systems in the Americas, it becomes vivid that the US national healthcare system hides racial discrimination in health care with a plethora of economic terms.

Discrimination can be present in health care institutions in various forms. The most widespread is the quality of service provided and the attention shown by the medical workers. De Prabal (2020) claims that 15% of people experiencing discrimination while receiving healthcare point to race as the primary reason. There are different factors standing behind the phenomenon, with prejudices concerning the financial standing among the most significant.

Healthcare jobs have long been considered among the most lucrative career options in the US, unlike most other nations. Thus, the incentives that the entire healthcare system and the workers involved can differ significantly from the provision of the best treatment and service. While in the health care institution, patients are perceived primarily as customers. At the same time, certain medical workers may try to use the lack of available information and lack of competence concerning treatment methods that patients demonstrate for overcharging.

The stereotypical perceptions concerning lower incomes of racial minorities can seriously undermine the overall quality of treatment. Medical workers may spend less time analyzing and observing patients with racial minority backgrounds due to the expected diminished ability to pay for all the expensive services and medicine. Moreover, certain medical workers with stereotypical perceptions can believe that Hispanics have less experience with the US health care system and sometimes can rely solely on doctors’ advice and decisions due to the language barrier.

Discrimination can affect heath not solely while receiving health care services in clinics and hospitals. Active lifestyle and varied diet have long been considered instrumental for maintaining good health. Organic and nutritious products and meals are rapidly becoming mainstream, with price levels decreasing. At the same time, numerous grocery stores that specialize in healthy food options continue to undermine business opportunities in communities represented primarily by racial minorities. Moreover, such neighborhoods continue to lack various sports facilities that help people stay fit and encourage an active lifestyle.

City planning has also been demonstrating different approaches to developing communities depending on the population. Americans are rapidly moving South, where heat and sandstorms can be severe issues. It has become vivid that communities featuring racial minorities have few parks and trees that are instrumental in addressing the above-mentioned issues. Moreover, Gonzales et al. (2021) underline that lifetime and work discrimination lead to various health issues and earlier retirement. Therefore, not only healthcare institutions but different other spheres of life can be affected by racial discrimination and undermine a substantial part of the US population in terms of maintaining good health.

Different crises tend to make various disparities and imbalances in society obvious. Akbulut et al. (2020) pinpoint that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated numerous inequalities in the current health care system. Racial minorities have demonstrated diminished chances to overcome the numerous challenges associated with the notorious virus and multiple economic repercussions. Cobb et al. (2020) state that numerous instances of discrimination create stress factors that undermine the ability to adapt, which exposes individuals to various health risks. Therefore, emerging evidence suggests that the way numerous institutions currently address the same crucial issues vary significantly depending on the race of a person who needs help.

Despite the multiple adverse effects that racial discrimination has on the development of a sophisticated framework for the enhancement of the entire health care system, the efficiency of specific measures is unknown. At the same time, William et al. (2019) claim that urgent interventions are needed to reduce the harmful effects of racial discrimination in health care. It could be beneficial to encourage medical professionals to take specific courses that explain all the harmful effects of racial discrimination in health care. Moreover, it is essential to inform medical workers about various unpleasant experiences that prejudices may lead to. The introduction of universal guidelines for observing a disease and choosing a treatment method can significantly increase the quality of health care services that racial minorities receive.

There are multiple issues that currently affect the efficiency of several systems and policies seeking to improve public health. Racial discrimination remains one of the most significant factors standing behind the phenomenon, despite all the efforts that have been made in recent decades. Therefore, more resources should be allocated to addressing the issue, including the extension of the Medicaid program and the introduction of new educational courses and guidelines.


Akbulut, N., Limaro, N., Wandschneider, L., Dhonkal, R., Davidovitch, N., Middleton, J., & Razum, O. (2020). ASPHER statement on racism and health: Racism and discrimination obstruct public health’s pursuit of health equity. International Journal of Public Health, 65(6), 727–729.

Cobb, R. J., Parker, L. J., & Thorpe Jr, R. J. (2020). Self-reported instances of major discrimination, race/ethnicity, and inflammation among older adults: Evidence from the health and retirement study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 75(2), 291–296. Web.

De Prabal, K. (2020). Beyond race: Impacts of non-racial perceived discrimination on health access and outcomes in New York City. PLOS ONE, 15(9), e0239482. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239482

Gonzales, E., Lee, Y. J., & Marchiondo, L. A. (2021). Exploring the consequences of major lifetime discrimination, neighborhood conditions, chronic work, and everyday discrimination on health and retirement. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 40(2), 121–131.

Karapin, R., & Feldman, L. (2020). Discrimination. Polity, 52(2), 157–158.

William, D. R., Lawrence, J. A., Davis, B. A., & Vu, C. (2019). Understanding how discrimination can affect health. Health Services Research, 54(S2), 1374–1388.

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